Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Robert Fulton and Robert Livingston had been granted by the State of New York exclusive navigation rights to their waters. These two gave Aaron Ogden a permit to navigate between New York City and the New Jersey shore. Ogden found himself competing with Thomas Gibbons who was operating a similar steamboat under license by the United States government. Ogden acquired an injunction against Gibbons who then appealed it. The Supreme Court held that Congress' interstate commerce powers did not just apply to "traffic" but was unlimited except as prescribed in the Constitution. "Commerce" was redefined as intercourse and Congress has the power to regulate any such intercourse. Additionally, any time federal law and state law come into conflict over this matter, federal law takes precedence. Congress has the power to regulate any interstate commerce.
Copyright © 1997 Jonathan Chin & Alan Stern