In a sharply divided decision (5-4), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the concept of sovereign immunity protects states from having to answer private complaints before the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). In the instant case, a cruise line filed a complaint with the FMC against the South Carolina State Ports Authority alleging that the Authority violated the Shipping Act of 1984 when it refused berthing space and passenger services
to the cruise line. The court held that state sovereign immunity bars the FMC from
adjudicating a private party's complaint against a nonconsenting state. Among other things, the Court rejected the argument that the need for uniformity in maritime commerce regulation required limitation of state sovereignty. Dissenting opinions were filed by Justices Stevens and Breyer. Federal Maritime Commission v. South Carolina State Ports Authority.
Source: HK Law