from my own compilation:
It appears that all or most of the nonsense about admiralty comes from a very old court decision -- De Lovio v. Boit (D. Mass 1815) 7 Fed.Cas. nr. 3776 page 418, in which the court [Associate Justice Joseph Story] said, after a very long lecture on the history of admiralty law, that “My judgment accordingly is that policies of insurance are within ... the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States.” (page 444). This is quoted repeatedly in militia-type literature to suggest that automobile insurance, and therefore all court cases involving automobiles, are subject to admiralty law (which would be in federal courts). This is ridiculous. To begin with, De Lovio v. Boit was entirely concerned with a marine insurance policy covering the voyage of a sailing ship and its cargo, and the issue was whether the litigation over this insurance should take place in a federal court or in a state court, and no other kind of insurance was even mentioned in the decision; cf. K.H. Volk, Jurisdiction of Marine Insurance Transactions, 66 Tulane L. Rev. 257; and W.A. Fletcher, The General Common Law and Section 34 of the Judiciary Act of 1789, The Example of Marine Insurance, 97 Harvard L. Rev. 1513. It is possible that Justice Story or the original typesetter inadvertently dropped a word from the sentence that would have made clear that he was speaking only about the insurance policies in that case. Back in 1815 when this was written, the majority of the insurance business dealt with ships and their cargo, rather than life or health or accident or fire insurance; certainly it can be argued that, in 1815, there was positively no automobile insurance. Moreover, it appears that Justice Story was a bit expansive in his phrasing whenever it involved maritime law; see Welch v. Texas Dept of Highways & Public Transp. (1987) 483 US 468 at 493 footnote 25.
Even in Massachusetts, where the De Lovio case had been decided, the state (non-admiralty) courts continued to hear cases involving conventional life and fire insurance. Altho this case is much mentioned in militia-type propaganda, it has NEVER been cited by a court in an automobile driving case. Its confinement to cases that are obviously maritime is often stated; e.g., Royal Ins. Co. v. Pier 39 Ltd (9th Cir 1984) 738 F2d 1035 at 1036; even while mentioning the De Lovio case the Supreme Court held that a forklift accident that took place on pier where boats were docked was not an admiralty case, Victory Carriers Inc. v. Law (1971) 404 US 202. (It is easy to surmise that a word was inadvertently dropped out of Justice Story’s sentence.) Some propaganda also quotes some court decisions, some of them very old, about admiralty courts having jurisdiction over contract and personal injury claims, etc., but it turns out that these cases were themselves admiralty cases involving contracts or injuries directly involving boats. The mere fact that a boat or body of water is mentioned in a case does not make it an admiralty case; a contract for work or deliveries on land relating to boats, or an income tax case arising from such a contract, “does not sound in admiralty.” Hunsaker v. US (2005) 66 Fed.Claims 129, 95 AFTR2d 2953, 2005 USTC 50474 affd (Fed.Cir 7/13/06) 197 Fed.Appx 912, 98 AFTR2d 5302. This same De Lovio v. Boit decision was cited by a court when it rejected an attempt by a pro se litigant to couch his lawsuit against the IRS as an admiralty case, and used this decision to prove “that admiralty jurisdiction covers only disputes over all contracts which relate to the navigation, business, or commerce of the sea.” R.O. Davenport v. Rossotti (D.S.C. 6/13/06).
"Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft."
First Samuel 15:23