Under the United States Constitution, federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over cases involving maritime and admiralty issues. Notable exceptions to this exclusivity arise under the "savings to suitors" clause, created by the Judiciary Act of 1789. Under this clause, state courts may hear cases involving maritime or admiralty disputes when state law adequately provides a remedy. Within these suits, however, the state courts must apply substantive federal maritime law under the doctrine of preemption and federal supremacy. Yet, the state courts may provide remedies and attach requirements to those remedies as they see fit, except when these provisions cause material prejudice to a characteristic feature of maritime law or interfere with the uniformity and proper harmony of maritime law administration.
Joseph P. Bradley,
Torpedoing the Uniformity or Maritime Law: American Dredging v. Miller,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
Available at: http://scholarship.richmond.edu/lawreview/vol28/iss5/8