• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the first commerce clause case before the Taney Court, the Supreme Court found that state police powers could cover people on boats traveling in inland waterways.

A New York law required ship captains to provide a list of passengers, post a bond for poor passengers, and carry away any undesirable aliens on board. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Gibbons v. Ogden[case]Gibbons v. Ogden[Gibbons v. Ogden] (1824) seemed to make the law unconstitutional, but the proslavery majority on the Court ignored Gibbons in its desire to preserve the rights of slave states to regulate the entrance of abolitionists, antislavery propagandists, and free blacks into their jurisdictions. The Supreme Court ruled six to one that although commerce covered only goods, state police power could cover the flow of people into a state, thereby expanding the power of the southern states to control immigration from other states on economic status grounds. Justice Joseph Story dissented, maintaining that this ruling interfered with the federal government’s commerce power. The ruling remained valid until the Edwards v. California case in 1941, in which the Court found that this ruling wrongly allowed legislatures to limit personal travel on grounds of economic status.Commerce clause;New York v. Miln[New York v. Miln]

Commerce, regulation of

Edwards v. California

Gibbons v. Ogden

Privileges and immunities

Travel, right to

Categories: History