The Antelope Case Brief

Summary of The Antelope (1825)

US coast guard seizes ship in waters surrounding the US. 280 Africans on board. Spain and Portugal sue for the return of their property. US appears as the “next friend" of the Africans (i.e. Δ).

1. Held: Marshall: Every nation has the right to have its own laws → law of nations. (now called international law)

a. When there is a conflict of laws, then individuals are only subject to the law of the (sovereign) states

2. Law of nature: (i.e. universal truths) also implicated

a. This source of law is trumped by the law of nations

b. Marshall begins to call the law of nature “feelings"—Can’t use “feelings" unless it becomes expressed as positive law or in the law of nature

3. Remedies:

a. Portugal not given back slaves, Spain given back some slaves

b. Allegations that slave owners may have been Americans clothed in a flag of another country

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