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Kotch v. Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners

United States Supreme Court
330 U.S. 552, 1947 AMC 535 (1947)


Under Louisiana law, all seagoing vessels entering or leaving the port of New Orleans were required to be boarded and navigated by state-appointed pilots. A pilot could be certified by the Board of River Port Pilot Commissioners for the Port of New Orleans (Board) (defendant) if the pilot met certain minimum requirements and served a six-month apprenticeship with an experienced pilot. Kotch and other individuals (plaintiffs) sought certification as pilots with the Board but lacked the requisite six-month apprenticeship. The plaintiffs challenged the requirements of the pilotage law, claiming that the incumbent pilots in New Orleans, who had complete discretion in selecting apprentices, almost exclusively selected apprentices from among their friends and relatives. The plaintiffs claimed that the pilotage system resulted in nepotism in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Supreme Court of Louisiana found that the pilotage law as administered in Louisiana did not violate the Equal Protection Clause.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Black, J.)

Dissent (Rutledge, J.)

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