New Jersey can pull out of the 1950s-era commission it created with New York to fight the kind of Mafia corruption made famous in Marlon Brando’s “On The Waterfront,” the US Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
Empire State officials had sued to stop the move, arguing corruption still exists and that the agreement the two states signed 70 years ago establishing the Waterfront Commission doesn’t let one leave without the other’s consent, according to Politico.
But New Jersey lawmakers — prodded by the shipping industry and powerful longshoreman’s union — have wanted out for years.
Strengthened industry oversight has largely severed the tendrils of organized crime that once wrapped themselves around the docks, the pols argued.
Now the two-member commission — which has its own police force and oversees licensing and inspections at the Port of New York and New Jersey — is little more than an “impediment to economic growth,” New Jersey said.
The high court unanimously sided with the Garden State, which has said its state police could take over the commission’s duties for it.
“We hold that New Jersey may unilaterally withdraw from the Waterfront Commission Compact notwithstanding New York’s opposition,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the decision.
The ruling will effectively kill the 70-person agency, which was formed in 1953 after the mob wormed its way into the ports and violently extorted payments from shippers and workers alike — a situation immortalized in the 1954 Oscar-winning Brando classic.
Much has changed since then. Back in the ’50s, 70% of the port’s business came through the New York side. Now, about 80% of cargo passes through New Jersey.
The Garden State has wanted to leave the commission since at least 2018, when then-Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill to pull out of the agency.
But New York balked and took the issue to the Supreme Court, which decides inter-state disputes.
Kavanaugh wrote in Tuesday’s decision that either party could end the contract, even though such a move was not specifically enunciated in the deal.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James issued a combined statement that said they were disappointed by the court’s decision.
“For decades, the Waterfront Commission has been a vital law enforcement agency, protecting essential industries at the port and cracking down on organized crime,” the statement said. “We will continue to do everything in our power to combat corruption and crime, protect the health of our economy, and ensure the safety of New Yorkers.
With Post wires
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