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Constitutional Law Keyed to Barnett
Gibbons v. Ogden
Citation:22 U.S. (9 Wheat.) 1 (1824)
The New York state legislature gave Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton (businessmen who developed the first steamboat) exclusive rights to operate steamboats in New York waters for 30 years. Livingston and Fulton then gave a license to Aaron Ogden to operate a ferry boat between New York City and Elizabethtown, New Jersey. Thomas Gibbons began operating a competing steamboat in New York waters, under a license granted to him by the Federal government.
Ogden sought an injunction to prevent Gibbons from operating his steamboats in New York waters, arguing that Gibbons’ operation violated the New York law granting a monopoly to Livingston and Fulton (who had granted the license to operate boats to Ogden). Gibbons argued that the New York law granting the monopoly violated the U.S. Constitution, because Congress had exclusive control over commerce between states (under the Commerce Clause).
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