Gibbons v. Ogden

PETITIONER: Thomas Gibbons
LOCATION: Ferry line between Elizabeth, New Jersey, and New York City

DECIDED BY: Marshall Court (1824-1826)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

ARGUED: Feb 04, 1824 / Feb 05, 1824 / Feb 06, 1824 / Feb 07, 1824 / Feb 09, 1824
DECIDED: Mar 02, 1824

Daniel Webster - for Gibbons
William Wirt - Attorney General of the United States, for Gibbons
Thomas Addis Emmet - for Ogden
Thomas J. Oakley - for Ogden

Facts of the case

The law of the New York granted to the individuals the right to conduct the steamboats in the internal waters possessed by the state.

The plaintiff Ogden obtained a license to this activity with performing commercial purposes. Gibbons as a defendant also had the permission of same character and that allowed the same activity issued by the US Congress for the same territory with the aim to govern the trade on the coast. The appellant brought suit before the New York court requesting to prohibit Gibbons to operate boats in the waters under New York regulation. However, the respondent affirmed that he had a legal right empowered by the license provided by the government. He proved that the Congress had a prior right to regulate the commerce between states. But the judges refused his arguments, ordered a restriction on his permission and confirmed the plaintiff`s position.

Then the defendant filed an appeal claim to the state appellate court, but it didn`t change the previous rulings. Following that the respondent brought the appellation to the Supreme Court of the USA.

Under its decision, the position of the defendant was proven. The case study explains that the judges found that the Congress was authorized to grant such licenses under the Commerce Clause. The court summarized that as the government had a right to regulate the trade between states, in broader meaning it also included the water navigation in commercial purposes.

Moreover, the case brief reflects the judgment that found out that the New York law was inappropriate to the Supremacy Clause, therefore, had no legitimate power.


Did the State of New York exercise authority in a realm reserved exclusively to Congress, namely, the regulation of interstate commerce?