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the constitution has viewed that subject 'with much solicitude. But so far from sustaining an inference in favour of the power of the States over commerce, I cannot but think that the guarded provisions of the 10th section, on this subject, furnish a strong argument against that inference. It was obvious, that inspection laws must combine muni, cipal with commercial regulations; and, while the power over the subject is yielded to the States, for obvious reasons, an absolute control is given over State legislation on the subject, as far as that legislation may be exercised, so as to affect the commerve of the country. The inferences, to be correctly drawn, from this whole article, appear to me to be altogether in favour of the exclusive grante to Congress of power over commerce, and the reverse of that which the appellee contends for.
This section contains the positive restrictions imposed by the constitution upon State power. The first clause of it, specifies those powers which the States are precluded from exercising, even though the Congress were to permit them. The second, those which the States may exercise with the consent of Congress. And here the sedulous attention to the subject of State exclusion from commercial power, is strongly marked. Not sit tisfied with the express grant to the United States of the power over commerce, this clause negativee the exercise of that power to the States, as to the only two objects which could ever tempt them to assume the exercise of that power, to wit, the collection of a revenue from imposts and duties on imports and exports; or from a tonnage duty. As
to imposts on imports or exports, such a revenue might huve been aimed at directly, by express legislation, or indirectly, in the form of inspection laws; and it became necessary to guard against both. Hence, first, the consent of Congress to such imposts or duties, is made necessary; and as to inspection laws, it is limited to the minimum of expenses. Then, the money so raised shall be paid into the treasury of the United States, or may be sued for. since it is declared to be for their use. And lastly, all such laws may be modified, or repealed, by an act of Congress. It is impossible for a right to be more guarded. As to a tonnage duty, that could be recovered in but one way, and a sum so raised, being obviously necessary for the execution of health laws, and other unavoidable port expenses, it was intended that it should go into the State treasuries; and nothing more was required, therefore, than the consent of Congress. But this whole clause, as to these two subjects, appears to have been introduced ex abundanti cautela, to remove every temptation to an attempt to-interfere with the powers of Congress over commerce, and to show how far Congress might consent to permit the States to exercise that power. Beyond those limits, even by the consent of Congress, they could not exercise it. And thus, we have the whole effect of the clause. The inference which counsel would deduce from it, is neither necessary nor consistent with the general purpose of the clause.
But instances have been insisted on, with much confidence, in argument, in which, by municipal
1824. laws, particular regulations respecting their car
goes have been imposed upon shipping in the ports Gibbons goes have
of the United States; and one, in which forfeiture Ogden.
was made the penalty of disobedience.
Until such laws have been tested by exceptions to their constitutionality, the argument certainly wants much of the force attributed to it; but aqmitting their constitutionality, they present only the familiar case of punishment inflicted by both governnients upon the same individual. He who robs the mail, may also steal the horse that carries it, and would, unquestionably, be subject to punishment, at the same time, under the laws of the State in which the crime is committed, and under those of the United States. And these punishments may interfere, and one render it impossible to inflict the other, and yet the two governments would be acting under powers that have no claim to identity.
It would be in vain to deny the possibility of a clashing and collision between the measures of the two governments. The line cannot be drawn with sufficient distinctness between the municipal powers of the one, and the commercial powers of the other. In some points they meet and blend so as scarcely to admit of separation. Hitherto the only remedy has been applied which the case admits of; that of a frank and candid co-operation for the general good. Witness the laws of Congress requiring its officers to respect the inspection laws of the States, and to aid in enforcing their health laws; that which surrenders to the States the superintendence of pilotage, and the
many laws passed to permit a tonnage duty to be levied for the use of their ports. Other instances could be cited, abundantly, to prove that collision must be sought to be produced; and when it does arise, the question must be decided how far the powers of Congress are adequate to put it down. Wherever the powers of the respective governments are frankly exercised, with a distinct view to the ends of such powers, they may act upon the same object, or use the same means, and yet the powers be kept perfectly distinct. A resort to the same means, therefore, is no argument to prove the identity of their respective powers.
I.have not touched upon the right of the States to grant patents for inventions or improvements, generally, because it does not necessarily arise in this cause.. It is enough for all the purposes of this decision, if they cannot exercise it so as to restrain a free intercourse among the States.
DECREE. This cause came on to be heard on: the transcript of the record of the Court for the Trial of Impeachments and Correction of Errors of the State of New-York, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, this Court is of opinion, that the several licenses to the steam boats the Stoudinger and the Bellona, to carry on the coasting trade, which are set up by the appellant, Thomas Gibbons, in his answer to the bill of the respondent, Aaron Ogden, filed in the Court of Chancery for the State of New York, which were granted under an act of Congress; passed in pursuance of the constitution of the
1824. United States; gave full authority to those ves
sels to navigate the waters of the United States, Gibbons
by steam or otherwise, for the purpose of carryOgden.
ing on the coasting trade, any law of the State of New-York to the contrary notwithstanding; and that so much of the several laws of the State of New York, as prohibits vessels, licensed according to the laws of the United States, from navigating the waters of the State of NewYork, by means of fire or steam, is repugnant to the said constitution, and void. This Court is, therefore, of opinion, that the decree of the Court of New-York for the Trial of Impeachments and the Correction of Errors, affirming the decree of the Chancellor of that State, which perpetually enjoins the said Thomas Gibbons, the appellant, from navigating the waters of the State of NewYork with the steam boats the Stoudinger and the Bellona, by steam or fire, is erroneous, and ought to be reversed, and the same is hereby reversed and annulled: and this Court doth further DIRECT, ORDER, and DECREE, that the bill of the said Aaron Ogden be dismissed, and the same is hereby dismissed accordingly.