MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.
These causes turn upon the same point, were heard together and it will be convenient to decide them by one opinion.
The immediate question presented by number three hundred sixty-six is whether one engaged in the business of stevedoring, whose employees work only on board ships in the navigable waters of Puget Sound, can be compelled to contribute to the accident fund provided for by the Workmen's Compensation Act of Washington. The State maintains that the objections to such requirement pointed out in Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart, 253 U.S. 149, were removed by the Act of June 10, 1922, c. 216, 42 Stat. 634.
The judgments below must be affirmed; the doctrine of Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart, to which we adhere, permits no other conclusion. There we construed the Act of October 6, 1917, c. 97, 40 Stat. 395,
Except as to the master and members of the crew, the Act of 1922 must be read as undertaking to permit application of the workmen's compensation laws of the several States to injuries within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction substantially as provided by the Act of 1917. The exception of master and crew is wholly insufficient to meet the objections to such enactments heretofore often pointed out. Manifestly, the proviso which denies jurisdiction to district courts of the United States over causes arising out of the injuries specified was intended to supplement the provision covering rights and remedies under state compensation laws. As that provision is ineffective, so is the proviso. To hold otherwise would bring about an unfortunate condition wholly outside the legislative intent.
Counsel insist that later conclusions of this Court have modified the doctrine of Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, and Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart. They rely especially upon Western Fuel Co. v. Garcia, 257 U.S. 233, Grant Smith-Porter Ship Co. v. Rohde, 257 U.S. 469, and Industrial Commission v. Nordenholt Co., 259 U.S. 263.
Southern Pacific v. Jensen involved a claim under the New York Compensation Act for death resulting from injuries sustained while the deceased was on board and engaged in unloading the vessel. We held (pp. 216, 217) — "It would be difficult, if not impossible, to define with exactness just how far the general maritime law may be changed, modified, or affected by state legislation. That
In Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart (pp. 163, 164, 166), where claim was made under the New York Act on account of the death of a bargeman who fell into the Hudson River and drowned, this was said —
"And so construed, we think the enactment is beyond the power of Congress. Its power to legislate concerning rights and liabilities within the maritime jurisdiction and remedies for their enforcement, arises from the Constitution, as above indicated. The definite object of the grant was to commit direct control to the Federal Government; to relieve maritime commerce from unnecessary burdens and disadvantages incident to discordant legislation; and to establish, so far as practicable, harmonious and uniform rules applicable throughout every part of the Union.
"Considering the fundamental purpose in view and the definite end for which such rules were accepted, we must conclude that in their characteristic features and essential international and interstate relations, the latter may not be repealed, amended or changed except by legislation which embodies both the will and deliberate judgment of Congress. The subject was intrusted to it to be dealt with according to its discretion — not for delegation to others. To say that because Congress could have enacted a compensation act applicable to maritime injuries, it could authorize the States to do so as they might desire, is false reasoning. Moreover, such an authorization would inevitably destroy the harmony and uniformity which the Constitution not only contemplated by actually established — it would defeat the very purpose of the grant. See Sudden & Christenson v. Industrial Accident Commission, 188 Pac. Rep. 803.
"Here, we are concerned with a wholly different constitutional provision — one which, for the purpose of securing harmony and uniformity, prescribes a set of rules, empowers Congress to legislate to that end, and prohibits material interference by the States. Obviously,. if every State may freely declare the rights and liabilities incident to maritime employment, there will at once arise the confusion and uncertainty which framers of the Constitution both foresaw and undertook to prevent."
In Western Fuel Co. v. Garcia, a proceeding begun in admiralty to recover damages for death of a stevedore fatally injured while working in the hold of a vessel then anchored and discharging her cargo, we held (p. 242) — "As the logical result of prior decisions we think it follows that, where death upon such waters results from a maritime tort committed on navigable waters within a State whose statutes give a right of action on account of death by wrongful act, the admiralty courts will entertain a libel in personam for the damages sustained by those to whom such right is given. The subject is maritime and local in character and the specified modification of or supplement to the rule applied in admiralty courts, when following the common law, will not work material prejudice to the characteristic features of the general maritime law, nor interfere with the proper harmony and uniformity of that law in its international and interstate relations."
Grant Smith-Porter Ship Co. v. Rohde was a proceeding in admiralty to recover damages from the ship-builder for injuries which the carpenter received while working on an unfinished vessel moored in the Willamette River at Portland, Oregon. "The contract for constructing `The Ahala' was nonmaritime, and although the incompleted structure upon which the accident occurred was lying in
Industrial Commission v. Nordenholt Co. related to a claim based upon death which resulted from injuries received by the longshoreman while on the dock — a matter never within the admiralty jurisdiction. "Insana was injured upon the dock, an extension of the land, Cleveland Terminal & Valley R.R. Co. v. Cleveland S.S. Co., 208 U.S. 316, and certainly prior to the Workmen's Compensation Act the employer's liability for damaged would have depended upon the common law and the state statutes. Consequently, when the Compensation Act superseded other state laws touching the liability in question, it did not come into conflict with any superior maritime law. And this is true whether awards under the act are made as upon implied agreements or otherwise. The stevedore's contract of employment did not contemplate any dominant federal rule concerning the master's liability for personal injuries received on land."
None of the later causes departs from the doctrine of Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen and Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart, and, we think, the provisions of the Act of 1922 cannot be reconciled therewith.
Without doubt Congress has power to alter, amend or revise the maritime law by statutes of general application embodying its will and judgment. This power, we think, would permit enactment of a general employers' liability law or general provisions for compensating injured employees; but it may not be delegated to the several States. The grant of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction looks to
This cause presents a situation where there was no attempt to prescribe general rules. On the contrary, the manifest purpose was to permit any State to alter the maritime law and thereby introduce conflicting requirements. To prevent this result the Constitution adopted the law of the sea as the measure of maritime rights and obligations. The confusion and difficulty, if vessels were compelled to comply with the local statutes at every port, are not difficult to see. Of course, some within the States may prefer local rules; but the Union was formed with the very definite design of freeing maritime commerce from intolerable restrictions incident to such control. The subject is national. Local interests must yield to the common welfare. The Constitution is supreme.
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES.
The reasoning of Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, and cases following it never has satisfied me and therefore I should have been glad to see a limit set to the principle. But I must leave it to those who think the principle right to say how far it extends.
MR. JUSTICE BRANDEIS, dissenting.
A concern, doing a general upholstering business in New York, directs one of its regular employees, resident there, to make repairs on a vessel lying alongside a New York dock. The ship, then temporarily out of commission, is owned and enrolled in New York, and when used is employed
The Constitution contains, of course, no provision which, in terms, deals, in any way, with the subject of workmen's compensation. The prohibition found by the Court rests solely upon a clause in § 2 of Article III:
Such is the chain of reasoning. Every link of the chain is essential to the conclusion stated. If any link fails, the argument falls. Several of the links are, in my opinion, unfounded assumption which crumbles at the touch of reason. How can a law of New York, making a New York employer liable to a New York employee for every occupational injury occurring within the State, mar the proper harmony and uniformity of the assumed general maritime law in its interstate and international relations, when neither a ship, nor a ship owner, is the employer affected, even though the accident occurs on board a vessel on navigable waters? The relation of the independent contractor to his employee is a matter wholly of state concern. The employer's obligation to pay and the employee's right to receive compensation are not dependent upon any act or omission of the ship or of its owners. To impose upon such employer the obligation to make compensation in case of an occupational injury in no way affects the operation of the ship. Nor can it affect the ship owners in any respect, except as every other tax, direct of indirect, laid by a State or municipality may affect, by increasing the cost of living and of doing business, every one who has occasion to enter it and many who have not.
Moreover, it is not a characteristic feature of the general maritime law that the employer, in case of accident, is liable to an employee only for negligence. The characteristic feature is the very contrary. To one of the crew, the vessel and her owners are liable, even in the absence of negligence, for maintenance, care and wages, at least so long as the voyage is continued. To him, they are liable, also, even in the absence of negligence, for indemnity or damages, if the injury results form unseaworthiness of the ship, or from failure to supply and keep in order the proper appliances.
A further assumption is that Congress, which has power to make and to unmake the general maritime law, can have no voice in determining which of its provisions require adaptation to peculiar local needs and as to which absolute uniformity is an essential of the proper harmony of international and interstate maritime relations. This assumption has no support in reason; and it is inconsistent (at least in principle) with the powers conferred upon Congress in other connections. The grant "of the .. . judicial power . . . to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction" is, surely, no broader in terms than the grant of power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States." Yet as to commerce, Congress may, at least in large measure, determine whether uniformity of regulation is required or diversity is permissible.
The recent legislation of Congress seeks, in a statesman-like manner, to limit the practical scope and effect of our decisions in Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205; Knickerbocker Ice Co. v. Stewart, 253 U.S. 149, and later cases, by making them hereafter applicable only to the
If the Court is of opinion that this act of Congress is in necessary conflict with its recent decisions, those cases should be frankly overruled. The reasons for doing so are persuasive. Our experience in attempting to apply the rule, and helpful discussions by friends of the Court, have made it dear that the rule declares is legally unsound;
"Third. Of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it, and to claimants for compensation for injuries to or death of persons other than the master or members of the crew of a vessel their rights and remedies under the workmen's compensation law of any State, District, Territory, or possession of the United States, which rights and remedies when conferred by such law shall be exclusive; of all seizures on land or waters not within admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; of all prizes brought into the United States; and of all proceedings for the condemnation of property taken as prize: Provided, That the jurisdiction of the district courts shall not extend to causes arising out of injuries to or death of persons other than the master or members of the crew, for which compensation is provided by the workmen's compensation law of any State, District, Territory, or possession of the United States."
Sec. 2. That clause 3 of section 256 of the Judicial Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
"Third. Of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it and to claimants for compensation for injuries to or death of persons other than the master or members of the crew of a vessel, their rights and remedies under the workmen's compensation law of any State, District, Territory, or possession of the United States."
"Third. Of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it, and to claimants the rights and remedies under the workmen's compensation law of any State; of all seizures on land or waters not within admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; of all prizes brought into the United States; and of all proceedings for the condemnation of property taken as prize."
Sec. 2. That clause three of section two hundred and fifty-six of the Judicial Code is hereby amended to read as follows:
"Third. Of all civil causes of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction, saving to suitors in all cases the right of a common-law remedy where the common law is competent to give it, and to claimants the rights and remedies under the workmen's compensation law of any State."