In Brief

SCOTUS won’t hear Waterfront Commission’s appeal of N.J. withdrawal

By: - November 22, 2021 4:35 pm

A New Jersey port stands across from Bayonne on October 15, 2021 in Bayonne, New Jersey. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a case lodged by the Waterfront Commission of the New York Harbor in an attempt to keep New Jersey in the bistate compact.

The body was tasked with combatting organized crime and ensuring  fair hiring practices in ports on both sides of the Hudson River, a task that will now fall to the New Jersey State Police.

“The Commission has long outlived its original mission and, today, only stands as a roadblock to hiring and operations at our ports,” said Michael Zhadanovsky, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Murphy. “We look forward to an orderly transition from the Commission to the New Jersey State Police.”

The Waterfront Commission filed suit in 2018 shortly after Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill allowing the state to pull out of the compact, charging the state lacks the authority to withdraw unilaterally.

A district court judge sided with the commission, but that decision was reversed by an appellate panel, which ruled the commission does not have standing to seek an injunction against the state, a ruling that the high court let stand Monday.

The commission’s attorney did not return a request for comment.

The commission had oversight over ports in Newark, Bayonne, and Elizabeth, as well as ports on the other side of the Hudson River. Though the commission’s petition was denied, New York state also has the ability to challenge New Jersey’s withdrawal in court.

The nearly seven-decade-old interstate agency was formed to combat organized crime in New York and New Jersey ports, but Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and other lawmakers said the commission had outserved its usefulness and now served as a barrier for economic growth.

New Jersey lawmakers, in the bill withdrawing from the compact, also alleged corruption had taken root in the Waterfront Commission.

Various federal agencies, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and various local law enforcement agencies would be sufficient to maintain oversight over New Jersey’s ports, they said.

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Nikita Biryukov
Nikita Biryukov

Nikita Biryukov most recently covered state government and politics for the New Jersey Globe. His tenure there included revelatory stories on marijuana legalization, voting reform and Rep. Jeff Van Drew's decamp to the Republican Party. Earlier, he worked as a freelancer for The Home News Tribune and The Press of Atlantic City.