Waterfront Commission dissolves after New Jersey’s unanimous SCOTUS victory; New Jersey controls port for first time since 1953
For Immediate Release: July 19, 2023
Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin, and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan announced that as of Monday, July 17 the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Port Security Section (PSS) has officially taken over the regulatory and law enforcement duties previously held by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor (WCNYH) within New Jersey. The WCNYH was formed in 1953 under a bi-state compact between New Jersey and New York.
Given the changing needs of the Port, New Jersey enacted legislation to leave the compact in 2018, sparking a five-year legal battle that culminated in a unanimous decision by the United States Supreme Court in April 2023 that affirmed New Jersey’s right to unilaterally withdraw from the Commission. Since that decision, the Murphy Administration has worked closely with New York State officials to ensure an orderly transition that will have minimal impact on the day-to-day operations of the Port.
The NJSP has assumed the administrative, regulatory, and law enforcement tasks formerly handled by the WCNYH, including mandatory employment licensing for waterfront workers and conducting law enforcement investigations at the Port.
“Since day one of my administration, I have been committed to ending the outdated Waterfront Commission and replacing it with a structure suited for the 21st century, and I am proud that our administration has delivered on that promise,” said Governor Murphy. “I am grateful to everyone who made this day possible, both for the legal victory and the transition in operations that has been finalized over the last three months. I know that the New Jersey State Police, one of the nation’s finest law enforcement forces, will do a superb job taking over the Commission’s responsibilities, and I look forward to this new chapter in the Port’s history.”
“This day is years in the making, and we never stopped fighting for New Jersey’s right to control its own port – a fight that took us all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Under Governor Murphy’s steadfast leadership, we begin a new era of commerce and security of the state’s waterfront,” said Attorney General Platkin. “And there is no agency more up to the task than the dedicated members of the New Jersey State Police. I applaud Colonel Callahan for standing up a top-flight unit to oversee the Port and bring its operations into the 21st century.”
“As we embark on this new chapter for the New Jersey State Police, we welcome the myriad of responsibilities of the Waterfront Commission. New Jersey State Troopers are among the finest and most capable law enforcement officers in the country and possess all the competencies to investigate and disrupt crime and manage a multitude of complex administrative functions,” said Colonel Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “We thank the Governor’s Office and the Office of the Attorney General for their support and confidence in the State Police’s capabilities in taking on the Commission’s law enforcement and regulatory responsibilities.”
Initial planning began well before the Supreme Court’s April decision, and tasks accelerated between the two States afterward to maintain the safety and integrity of the Port, without disruption in the flow of commerce. The States have pledged cooperation going forward through their respective law enforcement agencies.
Guidelines for those doing business with the Ports can be found in the Guidance Document. These guidelines will serve as interim guidance until NJSP promulgates formal rules and regulations regarding its new oversight functions. As explained in the guidance, licenses, registrations, and permits issued previously will continue to be valid until the expiration date listed on the card; future applications will be processed by the PSS.