MR. JUSTICE BLACK delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case for sale of a vessel and partition of the proceeds pursuant to a California statute began in the Superior Court of San Diego, the home port of the vessel. The plaintiffs were eight individuals including Edward, Anthony, and Joseph Madruga. The defendant was Manuel Madruga on whom personal service was had by summons. The defendant owned a 15% interest and the eight plaintiffs owned undivided interests aggregating 85% in a ship certificated under the maritime laws of the United States. The defendant 15% owner challenged the jurisdiction of the San Diego court on the ground that only the United States district court sitting in admiralty could take jurisdiction to consider such a case. The San Diego court decided it had jurisdiction and was upheld by the State Supreme Court which declined to issue a writ of prohibition.
First. Article III, § 2, of the Constitution extends the judicial power to "all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction. . . ." And since the first Judiciary Act, United States district courts have had jurisdiction of all civil cases of "admiralty or maritime jurisdiction . . . ." 28 U. S. C. § 1333. Whether this grants United States
Second. Had Congress simply granted district courts "admiralty or maritime jurisdiction exclusive of the states" California might not have power to order partition of a ship. But Congress did not stop there. It went on in the first Judiciary Act to say "saving to suitors, in all cases, the right of a common law remedy, where the common law is competent to give it." 1 Stat. 73, 77.
The proceedings in this California partition case were not in rem in the admiralty sense. The plaintiffs' quarrel was with their co-owner, not with the ship. Manuel Madruga, not the ship, was made defendant. Thus the state court in this proceeding acts only upon the interests of the parties over whom it has jurisdiction in personam, and it does not affect the interests of others in the world at large, as it would if this were a proceeding in rem to enforce a lien. The California court is "competent" to give this partition remedy and it therefore has jurisdiction of the cause of action.
Third. Petitioner contends that for the California court to entertain this partition suit at the instance of the majority shipowners would run counter to an admiralty rule which is said to permit sales for partition only as between equal interests. Such a national admiralty rule would bind the California court here, even though it has concurrent jurisdiction to grant partition. See Garrett v. Moore-McCormack Co., 317 U.S. 239; Butler v. Boston S. S. Co., 130 U.S. 527, 557-558. Congress has passed detailed laws regulating the shipping industry with respect to ownership, sales, mortgages and transfers of vessels.
The scarcity of reported cases involving such partition since the Constitution was adopted indicates that establishment of a national partition rule is not of major importance to the shipping world. We can foresee at this
MR. JUSTICE REED concurs in the judgment of the Court.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, whom MR. JUSTICE JACKSON joins, dissenting.
For one reason or another, eight co-owners having eighty-five percent interest in a vessel wished to terminate the enterprise but found the present petitioner, owner of the remaining fifteen percent, opposed to sale. Accordingly they asked a California State court for judicial sale of the vessel and appropriate distribution of the proceeds among all the owners. This is the only claim the plaintiffs made. There was no claim to enforce a personal right against the petitioner; no claim of any sort for which the levy on the ship as security was sought for some personal obligation owing from the petitioner. The jurisdiction of the State court was invoked exclusively for the sale of a vessel.
If this is not an action against the thing, in the sense in which that has meaning in the law, then the concepts of a res and an in rem proceeding have an esoteric meaning which I do not understand. From the terms of the complaint for partition through the opinion of this Court authorizing the State court to grant it, there is not the remotest suggestion that we are dealing with a remedy to enforce a separate underlying personal claim. Here the ship's the thing—not a claim outside the ship for which an ancillary remedy against the ship is sought. Cf. Knapp, Stout & Co. v. McCaffrey, 177 U.S. 638. Is it to be doubted that if California procedure required the proceeding to be brought by name against the Oil Screw
Of course State courts are free to give the relief here sought, if admiralty has not jurisdiction of a libel for partition. State law would then not be encroaching upon the admiralty jurisdiction of the federal courts. Whether admiralty has such jurisdiction, except when the contest over the use of the vessel is between owners whose interest is equally divided, has not been adjudicated by this Court, and the learning on the subject is not compelling. The problem has received its fullest consideration in Fischer v. Carey, 173 Cal. 185, 159 P. 577 (1916), and substantially on the basis of arguments there elaborated, I conclude that admiralty does have jurisdiction in the circumstances of this case. The nub of the holding of that case is that "the jurisdiction of the courts of the United States in admiralty is full and complete touching the matter of sale under the circumstances here indicated, that is to say, where dissentient owners are at strife over the use to be made of the ship; for it must, from the nature of admiralty jurisdiction, be a fundamental part of that jurisdiction to exercise control over the rem—the ship itself." 173 Cal., at 198, 159 P., at 582.
The Supreme Court of California in sustaining the State's power which it had denied in Fischer v. Carey did not overrule that case. It reached the result it did, because it found that the "saving clause," descended from the First Judiciary Act, 1 Stat. 73, 77, had been drastically modified by the 1948 revision of the Judicial Code. 28
Once it is established that the federal courts have jurisdiction and that the remedy here sought in a State court has "all the essential features of an admiralty proceeding in rem," The Hine v. Trevor, 4 Wall. 555, 571, the disposition of this case is clearly controlled by decisions of this Court. They were thus summarized in an opinion for the Court by Mr. Justice Brandeis, than whom no member of this Court gave wider scope to concurrent State jurisdiction in maritime matters: "A State may not provide a remedy in rem for any cause of action within the admiralty jurisdiction." Red Cross Line v. Atlantic Fruit Co., 264 U.S. 109, 124.
From the admiralty clause of the Constitution, this Court has drawn probably greater substantive law-making powers than it exercises in any other area of the law. See, e. g., The Osceola, 189 U.S. 158. Broad as are the implications of this clause, it does not authorize this Court to decide as a matter of policy, wholly untrammeled by the historic roots of admiralty, what relief may be sought exclusively in the federal admiralty courts and what may be concurrently given by the State courts. It is significant that the need for a body of maritime law, applicable throughout the Nation and not left to the diversity of the several States, was the one basis for the creation of a system of inferior federal courts, authorized by the Constitution, which was recognized by every shade of opinion at the Philadelphia Convention.
Some have thought that Mr. Justice Story here rejected the idea of admiralty jurisdiction to sell ships for partition. But, however that may be, he made it clear in his book on partnership that he believed admiralty courts did have such jurisdiction. Story, Partnership (1st ed. 1841), § 439, n. 1.