What to know
- The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a lawsuit aimed at preventing New Jersey from withdrawing from a bi-state commission that monitors corruption.
- The state of New Jersey wants to leave the commission citing that the commission hindered job growth
- Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie began the process in 2018 by signing legislation that pulls the state out of the commission
The state of New Jersey has moved closer to withdrawing from a bi-state commission set up to monitor corruption in New York region’s ports.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied hearing a lawsuit filed by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor that had sought to block New Jersey’s relocation. If the state of New York does not step in to file a legal challenge, the commission would effectively be dissolved. A message was left Tuesday for the Attorney General in New York.
The Commission was formed in the 1950s to combat the entrenched organized crime in ports. But in recent years, New Jersey has argued that organized crime has largely been driven out of ports, and that the commission has hampered job growth by over-regulating companies there and making employment more difficult. According to New Jersey’s plan, state police would take over the investigation of criminal activity in the ports.
The New York-New Jersey port system, among the busiest in the country, includes container terminals in Newark, Elizabeth and Bayonne in New Jersey and Staten Island and Brooklyn in New York. The New Jersey terminals handle most of the port’s business.
“The governor is pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision to dismiss the Waterfront Commission’s appeal,” Michael Zhadanovsky, a spokesman for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, said in an email Tuesday. “The Commission has long survived its original mission and today stands only as a roadblock for employment and operations in our ports. We look forward to an orderly transition from the Commission to the New Jersey State Police.
In 2018, then-Republican Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey signed legislation that pulled New Jersey out of the commission. A federal judge blocked the trial in 2019, writing that both states would have to accept amendments or additions to their agreements, and that corruption was still evident in the ports. But an appeals court disagreed last year, writing that the commission’s lawsuit should be dismissed because New Jersey was protected by sovereign immunity.
In the Commission’s petition to the Supreme Court in December, it argued that it would undermine the government’s ability to get states to enter into such agreements in the future to allow a state to unilaterally dissolve a bi-state agreement that has essentially federal law status.
A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with a lawyer representing the Waterfront Commission.