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Supreme Court Case: Gibbons v. Ogden

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Erica Turner

on 17 December 2012

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Transcript of Supreme Court Case: Gibbons v. Ogden

The Case The Supreme Court had to decide who has the ultimate power to decide how interstate commerce is conducted: the state government, the national government, or both. Background of the Defense Thomas Gibbons operated under a federal coasting license, granted under a 1793 Act of Congress. Background of the Prosecution The New York Legislature granted Aaron Ogden a monopoly to operate steamboat trading business in the waterways of NJ and NY. Court's Decisions: Dissenting Opinion Though the case decision was unanimous, Justice Johnson wrote a concurring opinion. He wrote: When speaking of the power of Congress over navigation, I do not regard it as a power incidental to that of regulating commerce; I consider it as the thing itself, inseparable from it as vital motion is from vital existence. Gibbons v. Ogden 1824
Erica Turner Was it right that the states could give the people power to run business in other states? He operated with steamboats between New York and New Jersey that competed with Ogden. Ogden filed a complaint against Gibbons in the Court of Chancery of New York to request that Gibbons stop operating his steamboats. Ogden's lawyer argued that states should have complete power regarding their interstate matters. Gibbon's lawyer argued that Congress had exclusive power to control interstate commerce as stated in Article 1, Section 8. Court's Decisions: Majority Opinion The court unanimously (6-0) sided with Gibbons saying, "Commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic. It describes the commercial intercourse between nations, and parts of nations, in all its branches, and is regulated by prescribing rules for carrying on that intercourse. States should control their own commerce. Interesting Facts Gibbons originally lost his case, but took it to the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was repealed. There were actually 7 judges on the bench in 1824, but Smith Thompson did not vote. Effects of the Court Decision In a month, almost twenty steamboats were now operating on the waterway and trade opportunities increased immensely. States had to check their state commerce laws to make sure they backed up the Constitution. Issues in this court case still relevant today This case showed the controversy between federal powers and state powers: who has the right and the power to decide certain things? Sources Cited "Gibbons v. Ogden." infoplease.com. Highbeam Research, LLC., 2005. Web. 10 Dec. 2012. <http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/gibbons-v-ogden.html>. "Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)." factmonster.com. Pearson Education, 2005. Web. 10 Dec. 20012. <http://www.factmonster.com/us/supreme-court/cases/ar12.html>.
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