On Thursday, the US Supreme Court temporarily suspended New Jersey’s plan to unilaterally shut down institutions that had been guarding busy ports around New York City for nearly 70 years in order to stop the effects of organized crime.
A court order was filed by New York authorities in an attempt to prevent a push by New Jersey counterparts to dissolve the New York Harbor Waterfront Commission, an agency established through Bilateral Compact in 1953. It was done in response to a lawsuit.
New Jersey officials claim that the commission, a product of the “waterfront” era when mobs dominated local wharfs and the unions that run them, is obsolete. New York authorities do not agree.
Governor Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey has vowed to remove the state representative from the committee by next week. This left government agencies out of service and ended a 70-year battle to keep the mob away from the dock.
To avoid closure, New York has taken a rare legal action to seek the intervention of the Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over interstate disputes.
In that ruling, the court granted New York’s request for an injunction prohibiting New Jersey from withdrawing from the Commission or blocking funds while the judge was considering the matter, and is usually an ally. Placed the two states in an unusual standoff.
New York Governor Kathy Hokul, a Democrat like Murphy, welcomed the court’s order in a statement that it was a “victory for the security of New Yorkers and the health of our economy.” “The Commission’s job of fighting crime in the harbor and protecting key industries is more important than ever,” she added.
Murphy expressed disappointment with the ruling, but expressed confidence that New Jersey would prove the decision to close the agency.
“I will not give up on the fight to protect the interests of New Jersey. The interests of New Jersey have not been fully provided by the Commission, which has run without transparency and has made its usefulness last longer,” he said. Said in a statement.
“We are very pleased with the court’s decision,” said Phoebe S. Solial, a legal adviser to the agency.
New York Harbor’s port system is the busiest on the East Coast and third in terms of freight volume after Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. Over 90% of port activity takes place on the New Jersey side of the port.
The committee was formed at a hearing in the early 1950s after the widespread impact of organized crime on ports at the time was revealed. It has the power to conduct background checks on future port workers and determine how many and when they can be hired. More recently, it has also used its power to demand that waterfront unions diversify their class, which has traditionally been dominated by white men.
The fight against corruption remains an important focus. A few years ago, the Commission assisted in investigating and prosecuting union officers, store managers, and foremen over a plot to blackmail union members on behalf of the Genovese family.
Nonetheless, Commission critics argue that it has become obsolete because control of the dock mob ended long ago, and that institutions are curbing economic growth by making employment too difficult. To do.
In addition to New Jersey officials, critics include the International Long Shoreman Association, which represents most workers in the port, and the New York Shipping Association, which operates a terminal where huge cargo ships are unloaded.
In sympathy for the complaint, Mr. Murphy’s Republican predecessor, Chris Christie, signed a law aimed at disbanding the Commission in one of his last actions as governor. After Mr Murphy took office, the Commission sued him in federal court, arguing that New Jersey could not unilaterally dismantle the two-state agreement that Congress had blessed.
The agency won the court, but lost when New Jersey appealed the decision to the US Court of Appeals in the Third Circuit. At that point, the Commission itself requested the Supreme Court to consider the case, but last year it refused.
As a result, Murphy announced plans to effectively disband the agency by resigning from New Jersey’s only commissioner on March 28 and ordering state police to take over the agency’s duties. The shipping association, which pays a fee to provide most of the government’s budget, said it would stop doing so at the same time.
New York responded with a final legal ploy.
The last attention-grabbing entanglement between the two states occurred 30 years ago when New Jersey sued New York for ownership of Ellis Island near the Statue of Liberty.