The opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Gibbons vs. Ogden, delivered by Chief Justice Marshall, March 2, 1824: with a preface, containing an historical sketch of the steam-boat controversy
United States. Supreme Court, Thomas Gibbons, Aaron Ogden, John Marshall, Miscellaneous Pamphlet Collection (Library of Congress)
Printed by J.B. Van Steenbergh., 1824 - Exclusive and concurrent legislative powers - 28 pages
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Page 12 - This would restrict a general term, applicable to many objects, to one of its significations, commerce, undoubtedly, is traffic, but it is something more — it is intercourse. It describes the commercial intercourse between nations, and parts of nations, in all its branches, and is regulated by prescribing rules for carrying on that intercourse.
Page 12 - America understands, and has uniformly understood, the word "commerce" to comprehend navigation. It was so understood, and must have been so understood, when the constitution was framed. The power over commerce, including navigation, was one of the primary objects for which the people of America adopted their government, and must have been contemplated in forming it. The convention must have used the word in that sense, because all have understood it in that sense; and the attempt to restrict it...
Page 12 - The mind can scarcely conceive a system for regulating commerce between nations, which shall exclude all laws concerning navigation, which shall be silent on the admission of the vessels of the one nation into the ports of the other, and be confined to prescribing rules for the conduct of individuals in the actual employment of buying and selling, or of barter.
Page 15 - It is the power to regulate; that is, to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed. This power, like all others vested in Congress, is complete in itself, may be exercised to its utmost extent, and acknowledges no limitations other than are prescribed in the Constitution.
Page 22 - ... full power over the thing to be regulated, it excludes, necessarily, the action of all others that would perform the same operation on the same thing. That regulation is designed for the entire result, applying to those parts which remain as they were, as well as to those which are altered. It produces a uniform whole, which is as much disturbed and deranged by changing what the regulating power designs to leave untouched, as that on which it has operated. There is great force in this argument,...
Page 11 - ... for the purpose. But this limitation on the means which may be used is not extended to the powers which are conferred ; nor is there one sentence in the constitution, which has been pointed out by the gentlemen of the bar, or which we have been able to discern, that prescribes this rule. We do not, therefore, think ourselves justified in adopting it.
Page 18 - They form a portion of that immense mass of legislation, which embraces everything within the territory of a state, not surrendered to the general government ; all which can be most advantageously exercised by the states themselves.
Page 14 - States. Every district has a right to participate in it. The 'deep streams which penetrate our country in every direction, pass through the interior of almost every State in the Union, and furnish the means of exercising this right.
Page 14 - It has been truly said that commerce, as the word is used in the constitution, is a unit, every part of which is indicated by the term. If this be the admitted meaning of the word, in its application to foreign nations, it must carry the same meaning throughout the sentence, and remain a unit, unless there be some plain intelligible cause which alters it. The subject to which the power is next applied is to commerce "among the several states.
Page 19 - No direct general power over these objects is granted to Congress, and, consequently, they remain subject to State legislation. If the legislative power of the Union can reach them it must be for national purposes — it must be where the power is expressly given for a special purpose, or is clearly incidental to some power which is expressly given.