Home>Highlight>New Jersey files brief opposing New York’s attempt to block Waterfront Commission exit

The Bayonne Port Terminal. (Photo: Carol Highsmith via Flickr).

New Jersey files brief opposing New York’s attempt to block Waterfront Commission exit

Hochul, James announced lawsuit against withdrawal last week

By Joey Fox, March 22 2022 9:56 am

Gov. Phil Murphy announced today that last night, acting Attorney General Matt Platkin filed a legal brief with the United States Supreme Court opposing New York’s attempt at preventing New Jersey from leaving the Waterfront Commission Compact, which is tasked with regulating and policing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Our withdrawal is long overdue,” Murphy said in a statement. “The compact made sense in 1953. It makes no sense now. The commission has long outlived its usefulness, and my administration remains committed to extricating New Jersey from the compact and allowing the New Jersey State Police, one of the nation’s preeminent law enforcement agencies, to bring the oversight of the port into the 21st century.”

As Murphy’s press release noted, when the commission was formed in 1953, Port Authority business was more evenly divided between the two states, but now New Jersey makes up more than 90% of the port’s economic activity. 

In 2018, former Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation withdrawing New Jersey from the commission, a withdrawal that was at long last slated to take effect on March 28, at which point the New Jersey State Police would take over the commission’s duties. 

But last week, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James sued New Jersey for its planned exit, saying that the move “will open the door to organized crime members and other criminal enterprises infiltrating the port and controlling its operations.” Given the imminence of New Jersey’s exit, Hochul and James asked for an emergency injunction blocking the withdrawal until the case is heard.

Platkin said today that New Jersey is prepared to assume control of the port, and criticized the four-year gap between the original withdrawal law’s passage and New York’s lawsuit. 

“The U.S. Supreme Court should reject New York’s last-minute effort to keep New Jersey in the Waterfront Commission,” Platkin said. “New Jersey followed the law when it decided to withdraw from the Waterfront Commission. And consistent with our statute, the state police, the best in the nation, has spent months preparing to undertake oversight at the port, including to protect public safety and safeguard the port.”

Joining Murphy and Platkin on today’s press release were Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-South Amboy), Senate Minority Leader Steve Oroho (R-Franklin), and Assembly Minority Leader John DiMaio (R-Hackettstown), a sign of the withdrawal’s continued bipartisan support within New Jersey.

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