Gibbons v. Ogden
SCOTUS - 1824
- NY legislature granted a monopoly to Fulton and Livingston to operate steamboats in New York waters. They licensed Ogden (P) to operate a ferry boat between NYC and NJ.
- Gibbons (D) operated a competing ferry service and violated the exclusive rights given to Fulton and Livingston.
- Gibbons maintained that he had the right to operate his ferry because it was licensed under a federal law as vessels of the coasting trade.
- Ogden sued for an injunction.
- NY lower court granted injunction.
- SCOTUS reversed.
- What is the scope of Congress's Commerce Clause power?
- Congress, through the Commerce Clause, may regulate any interstate commerce and preempt state law in the area.
- Commerce is intercourse between the states and includes navigation.
- "Congress shall have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes."
- There is no reason for this clause to be construed strictly. Commerce, then, is not just traffic between states. Commerce is intercourse between states and includes navigation.
- If navigation were not part of commerce, then the U.S. could not make laws prescribing that American vessels must be operated by American sailors.
- This power has been used since the beginning of the gov't.
- All America understands the word commerce to comprehend navigation.
- Commerce among the states cannot stop at the external boundary line of each state, but may be introduced into the interior. Congress may regulate commerce between any foreign power and any state.
- However, strictly intra-state commerce is not within the power of Congress.