• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this case, the result of an unusual chain of events, the Supreme Court set the standard for the height of bridges above navigable rivers throughout the 1800’s.

By 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court held that the bridge Virginia built from Wheeling (later West Virginia) to the western states was a nuisance because it interfered with large steamboat traffic in which Pennsylvania had a special interest. Having decided Pennsylvania had standing to sue, Justice John McLeanMcLean, John[MacLean, John];Pennsylvania v. Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Co.[Pennsylvania v. Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Co.] ordered the bridge torn down or elevated. Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney and Peter V. Daniel dissented, arguing that the Court lacked jurisdiction because there was no federal statute on the question. Later Congress passed a law making the bridge lawful at its existing height, and the Court in a case by the same name decided the bridge was not a nuisance because of the federal statute. This height of the bridge at the end of this case was used to determine the height of bridges above navigable rivers throughout the late nineteenth century.Commerce, regulation of;Pennsylvania v. Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Co.[Pennsylvania v. Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Co.]

Commerce, regulation of

Federalism

Reversals of Court decisions by Congress

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