- Full Case Name: Thomas Gibbons, Appellant v. Aaron Ogden, Respondent
- Oral Argument: Wednesday, February 4, 1824
- Decision: Tuesday, March 2, 1824
Facts of the CaseEdit
A New York state law gave two individuals the exclusive right to operate steamboats on waters within state jurisdiction. Laws like this one were duplicated elsewhere which led to friction as some states would require foreign (out-of-state) boats to pay substantial fees for navigation privileges. In this case a steamboat owner who did business between New York and New Jersey challenged the monopoly that New York had granted, which forced him to obtain a special operating permit from the state to navigate on its waters.
Question Posed to the CourtEdit
Did the State of New York exercise authority in a realm reserved exclusively to Congress, namely, the regulation of interstate commerce?
Final Court RulingEdit
The Court found that New York's licensing requirement for out-of-state operators was inconsistent with a congressional act regulating the coasting trade. The New York law was invalid by virtue of the Supremacy Clause. In his opinion, Chief Justice Marshall developed a clear definition of the word commerce, which included navigation on interstate waterways. He also gave meaning to the phrase "among the several states" in the Commerce Clause. Marshall's was one of the earliest and most influential opinions concerning this important clause. He concluded that regulation of navigation by steamboat operators and others for purposes of conducting interstate commerce was a power reserved to and exercised by the Congress.