New York sues New Jersey over withdrawal from Waterfront Commission

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Kathy Hochul have filed legal action in the United States Supreme Court to block New Jersey from terminating the Waterfront Commission created by New York and New Jersey for the port that the two states share. The complaint invokes the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to seek a declaratory judgment and both preliminary and permanent injunctions to prohibit New Jersey from breaching the congressionally approved Waterfront Commission Compact between New York and New Jersey. New Jersey’s withdrawal would likely cause immediate and irreparable harm to New York, resulting in increased criminal activity, higher prices on incoming goods, and racial and gender inequities in hiring at the port.

“For decades, the Waterfront Commission has been a critical partnership to keep our ports and our communities safe,” said Attorney General James. “New Jersey’s attempt to terminate this commission is unlawful, ill-advised, and infringes on our efforts to crack down on crime. This commission has long proved to be a necessary force to root out corruption and organized crime, and we will use every tool at our disposal to ensure its powers remain intact and our communities benefit from its important work.” 

“Protecting the safety of New Yorkers and our vital industries is my top priority, and we cannot afford to lose the Waterfront Commission’s unique authority and expertise in combatting crime at our port,” said Governor Hochul. “In light of current geopolitical uncertainty, the termination of the Waterfront Commission would cause immediate and irreparable harm to New York state, from increased crime to higher prices to employment inequities. It is our responsibility to New Yorkers to stop New Jersey’s unlawful actions and preserve the ongoing work of this law enforcement agency.” 

The bi-state Waterfront Commission was created in 1953 to address organized crime at the port, which spans areas in both states.  

The complaint filed in the Supreme Court requests that the court preliminarily and permanently enjoin New Jersey from taking any action to further its unilateral withdrawal and declare that any such action is unlawful and void to preserve and protect the Waterfront Commission and the interstate agreement that created it. 

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