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Statement of the Case.
the District Court. It was contended that there was a conflict between the Federal and the state law as to the control of the vessels for purposes of bar pilotage. The libelants relied upon the state law giving the resident state bar pilotage control of the vessels in question when entering or leaving port. The District Court held that the Federal law excluded these vessels from state control and the libels were dismissed.
"On appeal to this court it has become apparent that the decision of the two cases involves a question of conflict of jurisdiction between the State and the Federal Government as to the pilotage of all steam vessels touching at both foreign and domestic ports on the one voyage and also as to the pilotage of the large number of registered steam vessels now engaged in traffic between ports of the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts of the United States, both by way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Isthmus of Panama and around South America. The decision will also affect the very large number of steam vessels which may reasonably be expected to sail between American ports on the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, via the Panama Canal.
“In determining the intent of Congress in passing the Act of February 28, 1871, the court had under consideration the following statutes: the Act of August 7, 1789, codified in section 4235 of the Revised Statutes, recognizing and adopting the pilotage regulations of the various States so far as bar and entrance pilotage is concerned; section nine, paragraph nine and ten of the Steamship Act of August 30, 1852, creating a certain class of Federal pilots, (10 Statutes at Large, 67, reënacted in chapter 100, sections 18 and 14 of Act of February 28, 1871, (codified in Revised Ştatutes 4442 and 4438); Act of May 27, 1848, (codified in Revised Statutes 3126), permitting registered vessels sailing between ports of the United States to trade with foreign ports; section twenty of the Act of Febru
Statement of the Case.
ary 18, 1793 (1 Stats. 313, codified in Revised Statutes, 4361), providing for the regulation and duties of officers on registered vessels as to the carriage of foreign goods and distilled liquors and the making of manifests.
“The members of the court are unable to agree as to the interpretation of the cited portions of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, codified in Revised Statutes, sections 4401 and 4444, and for this reason, and because of the importance of the interests affected, both governmental and commercial, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certify the following questions to the United States Supreme Court, and request its instructions upon them.
“1. Are coastwise sea going steam vessels, sailing under register, and having officers with federal pilot's licenses, free from any liability for pilotage fees created by sections 2468, 2466 and 2432 of the Political Code of the State of California, upon the proper tender of services of resident bar pilots of the State pilotage establishment, when entering or leaving the port of San Francisco, by virtue of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, entitled 'An Act to provide for the Better Security of Life on Board of Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam, as reënacted of date December 1, 1873, in sections 4401 and 4444 of the Revised Statutes?
“2. Are there any provisions of title 52 of the Revised Statutes which may be construed as exempting coastwise sea going steam vessels sailing under register, whose officers have federal pilot's licenses from any liability for pilotage fees created by sections 2468, 2466 and 2432 of the Political Code of the State of California, upon the proper tender of services of resident bar pilots of the State pilotage establishment, when entering or leaving the port of San Francisco, State of California, under the rule of construction laid down in the last sentence of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, entitled 'An Act to Provide
for the Better Security of Life on Board of Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam,' and as reënacted in section 4444 of the Revised Statutes?
“3. Did Congress intend to classify with the 'coastwise vessels' referred to in the last proviso of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, entitled 'An Act for the Better Security of Life on Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam,' and reënacted in section 4444 of the Revised Statutes, registered steam vessels engaged in commerce with both foreign and domestic ports on the same voyage?
“4. Did Congress, in enacting the last proviso of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, reënacted in section 4444 of the Revised Statutes, intend to exempt registered steam vessels whose officers have federal pilot's licenses, from any liability for pilotage fees created by sections 2468, 2466 and 2432 of the Political Code of the State of California, upon proper tender of services of resident bar pilots of the State pilotage establishment, on entering or leaving the port of San Francisco on regular voyages, on which they steamed to Victoria, British Columbia, and carried cargo, mail and passengers direct thereto and direct therefrom; when, after leaving Victoria, British Columbia, on the outward voyage, they steamed to Puget Sound ports of the State of Washington, for which they had originally cleared, and returned therefrom to Victoria, British Columbia; when the stop at Victoria, British Columbia, is for about an hour on each occasion; when at least ninety (90) per cent of the passenger and cargo traffic for the outward and inward voyages is between the port of San Francisco and the ports of Washington; and when the traffic with the foreign port may be deemed en route between the domestic ports?”
Mr. William Denman for Anderson and Jordan.
Mr. Graham Sumner, with whom Mr, George W. Tovole,
Mr. Thomas Thacher, Mr. Thomas D. Thacher and Mr. Leland B. Duer were on the brief, for Steamship Companies.
MR. JUSTICE HUGHES, after making the above statement, delivered the opinion of the court.
When the Constitution of the United States was adopted, each State had its own regulations of pilotage. While this subject was embraced within the grant of the power “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States” (Art. I, § 8), Congress did not supersede the state legislation, but by the act of August 7, 1789, c. 9, § 4 (1 Stat. 53, 54; R. S., $ 4235), it was enacted that "all pilots in the bays, inlets, rivers, harbors, and ports of the United States, shall continue to be regulated in conformity with the existing laws of the States respectively wherein such pilots may be, or with such laws as the States may respectively hereafter enact for the purpose, until further legislative provision shall be made by Congress.” This was “a clear and authoritative declaration by the first Congress, that the nature of this subject is such, that until Congress should find it necessary to exercise its power, it should be left to the legislation of the States;” and it has long been established by the decisions of this court that, although state laws concerning pilotage are regulations of commerce, they fall within that class of powers which may be exercised by the States until Congress shall see fit to act. Cooley v. Board of Wardens, 12 How. 299, 319, 321; Steamship Company v. Joliffe, 2 Wall. 450, 459; Ex parte McNiel, 13 Wall. 236, 240; Wilson v. McNamee, 102 U. S. 572; Olsen v. Smith, 195 U. S. 332, 341. In 1837 (5 Stat. 153), it was provided that a master of a vessel entering or leaving a port situate upon waters which are the boundary between two States, might employ a pilot licensed by either State. There was no other Federal legislation upon the subject of pilots until 1852;
Opinion of the Court.
225 U. S.
and thus "for more than sixty years" it was “acted on by the States, and the systems of some of them created and of others essentially modified during that period.” Cooley v. Board of Wardens, supra, p. 321.
The act of August 30, 1852, c. 106 (10 Stat. 61), contained provisions for the licensing of pilots of steam vessels (8 9, Ninth, id. 67). In Steamship Company v. Joliffe, supra, it was contended that the statute of the State of California of May 20, 1861, providing for port pilots at San Francisco, was in conflict with this act; but the court took the contrary view, holding that the Federal law did not relate to port pilots. The court said (pp. 460, 461): "The act of 1852 was intended, as its title indicates, to provide greater security than then existed for the lives of passengers on board of vessels propelled in whole or part by steam.
The act contains few provisions relating to pilots; indeed, it was not directed to the remedy of any evils of the local pilot system. There were no complaints against the port pilots; on the contrary, they were the subjects of just praise for their skill, energy, and, efficiency. The clauses respecting pilots in the act relate, in our judgment, to pilots having charge of steamers on the voyage, and not to port pilots; and the provision that no person shall be employed or serve as a pilot who is not licensed by the inspectors has reference to employment and service on the voyage generally, and not to employment and service in connection with ports and harbors.”
In 1866, Congress passed a more comprehensive statute embracing port pilotage (act of July 25, 1866, c. 234, 14 Stat. 227). After defining the vessels subject to the naviz gation laws of the United States, it enacted (§ 9) that "every sea-going steam vessel," so subject, should “when under way, except upon the high seas, be under the control and direction of pilots licensed by the inspectors of steam vessels; vessels of other countries and public vessels of the United States only excepted.” In the following