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Gibbons v. Ogden?(Supreme Court Case)?

was a Supreme Court case about which of the following?



states’ rights




travel licenses


interstate trade


1 Answer

  • 8 years ago
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    Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824), was a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the power to regulate interstate commerce was granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The case was argued by some of America's most admired and capable attorneys at the time. Exiled Irish patriot Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J. Oakley argued for Ogden, while William Wirt and Daniel Webster argued for Gibbons.

    Aaron Ogden filed a complaint in the Court of Chancery of New York asking the court to restrain Thomas Gibbons from operating on these waters. Ogden's lawyer contended that states often passed laws on issues regarding interstate matters and that states should have fully concurrent power with Congress on matters concerning interstate commerce.

    Gibbons' lawyer, Daniel Webster, argued that Congress had exclusive national power over interstate commerce according to Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution and that to argue otherwise would result in confusing and contradicting local regulatory policies. The Court of Chancery of New York and the Court of Errors of New York found in favor of Ogden and issued an injunction to restrict Gibbons from operating his boats.

    Gibbons appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing as he did in New York that the monopoly conflicted with federal law. After several delays, the court began discussing the meaning of the commerce clause in 1824, which by that time had become an issue of wider interest. Congress was debating a bill to provide a federal survey of roads and canals. Southerners, in particular, were growing more sensitive to what the resolution of these issues would mean to them as sectional disputes, especially over slavery, were increasing.

    Decision of the U.S. Supreme Court

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Gibbons. The sole argued source of Congress's power to promulgate the law at issue was the Commerce Clause. Accordingly, the Court had to answer whether the law regulated "commerce" that was "among the several states." With respect to "commerce," the Court held that commerce is more than mere traffic—that it is the trade of commodities—it is also intercourse. This broader definition includes navigation. The Court interpreted "among" as "intermingled with."

    "If, as has always been understood, the sovereignty of Congress, though limited to specified objects, is plenary as to those objects, the power over commerce with foreign nations and among the several states is vested in Congress as absolutely as it would be in a single government, having in its constitution the same restrictions on the exercise of the power as are found in the Constitution of the United States."

    Importance of the case

    Steven Redd argues that the decision in Gibbons v. Ogden survived until 1895, when the court began to limit the congressional power with the case of United States v. E. C. Knight Co., 156 U.S. 1 (1895). This marked the start of a 40-year period of history during which the Supreme Court limited the federal government's ability to regulate under the Interstate Commerce Clause. During the 1930s the Supreme Court changed course again and began to grant more federal authority under Commerce Clause, going beyond even the authority recognized in Gibbons v. Odgen. The Court went so far as to say that even activity entirely within one state could be regulated by the federal government if the activity had an effect on interstate commerce. See National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, 301 US 1 (1937).

    However, Strict Constructionists (those who believe that the Constitution must be given the narrowest possible construction) hold a different view of the meaning of Commerce Clause as established in Gibbons that it was limited in scope because the decision could be interpreted to say that navigation only pertained to the federal Commerce Clause because it was necessary to business as it allowed for the interstate transportation of goods. Therefore, under this theory the E.C Knight decision may be viewed not as a radical departure, but as a continuation of the original jurisprudence.

    Note that in Gibbons v. Ogden the court specifically stated there are limits upon the federal commerce power, but chose not to put into detail what those limits were aside from goods specifically made, moved, and sold within one state were exclusively beyond the reach of the federal commerce power. This part of the Gibbons ruling stands in direct contrast to the post-New Deal decision in Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942).

    Source(s): wikipedia
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