The US Supreme Court heard oral argument in two cases Tuesday.
CITGO Asphalt Refining Co. v. Frescati Shipping Co. asks about standards in federal maritime law regarding safe-berth clauses in voyage charter contracts. The respondent argued that safe-berth clauses in these contracts should be construed “as a warranty that the charterer would choose a port that is actually safe, not merely one that the charterer believes to be safe after the exercise of due diligence.” In contrast, the petitioner argued that the safe-berth clauses should be treated as requiring a duty of due diligence rather than an absolute warranty of safety of the ship.
The second case that the Supreme Court heard was Allen v. Cooper, which asks whether states can be sued under federal copyright law. The petitioner argued that “[w]hen states infringe the exclusive federal rights that Congress is charged with securing, Congress can make states pay for doing so.” The respondent argued the importance of state sovereign immunity and the limits on “Congress’s authority to expose state treasuries to the Copyright Act’s exorbitant financial remedies.”