Hastings International and Comparative Law Review


Mary B. Neumayr


In 1986, Congress passed the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act as part of its overall effort to halt the enormous flow of illicit drugs into the United States. The Act departs from traditional Maritime jurisdiction, limited to the nation's territorial waters, and authorizes the Coast Guard under certain circumstances to board foreign flagged vessels virtually anywhere on the high seas. Since the legislation stands in contrast to the classic doctrine of the freedom of the sea, and consequently invites examination, this Note evaluates the Act in light of principles of international and domestic law. This Note analyzes the particular provisions of the Act and concludes that it is valid with respect to its fundamental elements, but that its provisions regarding the raising of defenses should be altered to comply properly with international and domestic notions of jurisdiction.