The U.S. Supreme Court has handed a temporary victory to New York in its ongoing battle with New Jersey over who should police the region's ports.
In a brief order on Thursday, the court halted New Jersey's plans to withdraw from the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, which was created more than 70 years ago in a bi-state compact to fight organized crime at area seaports. New Jersey planned to dismantle the commission and hand those responsibilities to the State Police in four days.
“This swift decision is a victory for the safety of New Yorkers and for the health of our economy,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a statement. “We will continue to fight for New Yorkers to crack down on corruption and crime and protect the safe transport of goods."
Gov. Phil Murphy said he was disappointed by the decision but was hopeful the state would ultimately be able to withdraw from the commission, once the case is fully litigated.
"I will not give up the fight to protect New Jersey’s interests, which are poorly served by a commission that operates without transparency and has long outlived its usefulness, and I thank my partners in the Legislature, labor, and industry for continuing this fight alongside us," he said in a statement issued Thursday.
New York sued New Jersey last week to stop the state from unilaterally withdrawing from the Waterfront Commission. In court papers seeking a preliminary injunction, New York argued that New Jersey couldn’t decide on its own to leave the watchdog agency established in 1953 through an interstate agreement approved by Congress.
In response, New Jersey acting Attorney General Matt Platkin wrote in a brief that the state had sovereignty to decide who could police its docks. He called New York’s lawsuit an “eleventh-hour” effort to stop plans that were approved four years ago. In 2018, state legislators voted to withdraw from the commission.
Correction: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story mischaracterized the next legal steps involved in the case. The story has also been updated with additional comment.