• Tue. Aug 9th, 2022

SCOTUS to hear arguments on the future of the Waterfront Commission

ByChad J. Johnson

Jun 21, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday it will hear arguments in the case regarding the future of the Waterfront Commission, a two-state agency that has monitored port activity and crime since 1953, and she set deadlines for states to file petitions later this year. .

New York sued New Jersey in March 2022 after the latter attempted to withdraw from the commission, which is governed by a commissioner from each state.

Governor Phil Murphy “remains confident that when the matter is fully considered and decided, New Jersey’s right to withdraw from the Commission will be vindicated and New Jersey can regain authority over its ports with a regulatory structure more suited to the 21 century,” Murphy’s spokesperson Bailey Lawrence said in a statement.

In January 2018, a law passed in New Jersey allowing the state to end its participation in the commission – a move backed by the belief of some lawmakers that the commission was meant to be temporary and is no longer needed. Instead of the commission monitoring the waterfront, New Jersey has suggested that state police could police the hiring of dockworkers and monitor criminal activity at ports.

“To justify its continued existence, the Commission has over-regulated the port, stifling trade and exacerbating labor shortages,” New Jersey Acting Attorney General Matt Platkin wrote in documents filed with the court. Supreme Court.

New York Attorney General Letitia James argued that New Jersey required New York’s consent to withdraw from the commission. She also wrote in court that the agency’s work is still needed because “despite the many successes of the Bi-State Commission, criminal operations continue to seek to exert influence on both sides of the port.”

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The Waterfront Commission was created to eliminate organized crime and prevent it from infiltrating commerce and operating in the ports of New York and New Jersey. The commission itself has become the center of controversy for becoming “a climate of abuse”, according to an audit released by the New York inspector general in 2009.

Stacks of shipping containers at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal.

Days before New Jersey planned to quit the commission in March, the Supreme Court stepped in and temporarily halted the action after New York sued its counterpart. In May, Joseph Sanzari, who had represented New Jersey as the agency’s commissioner since late last year, resigned from his position, telling Politico he was “not interested in serving on a board or commission in which my role would be to engage in legal contests between competing parties.”

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Murphy praised Sanzari for his serve and said he would find a replacement “shortly”, but has yet to do so.

The United States Supreme Court has set multiple deadlines through November 2022 for both states to file motions and responses.

The New York and New Jersey attorneys general’ offices did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Colleen Wilson covers the Port Authority and NJ Transit for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to his work covering the region’s transport systems and how they affect your travels, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @colleenallreds