Since the development of the Constitution, federal courts have had jurisdiction to hear admiralty and maritime cases. In contract cases, the question to determine jurisdiction is whether a contract relates to maritime commerce, not the place where a contract was made or was to be performed. However, a contract to build or sell a ship does not give rise to admiralty jurisdiction. Admiralty jurisdiction arises in tort cases if the tort occurred in navigable waters or if a vessel has caused injuries on land.
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