Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) was a Supreme Court case that famously expounded upon the powers of the commerce clause, setting the precedent of Congress’s broad ability to regulate interstate and some intrastate commerce.
The case originated in a dispute over shipping monopolies in New York. Ogden and Gibbons both were in the business of steamboat operations between New York and New Jersey. Ogden had a monopoly from the state of New York over steamboat operations in state waters, but Gibbons had a federal license to operate within New York. After a New York court granted an injunction against Gibbons, Gibbons appealed up to the Supreme Court which found that Congress had the ability to regulate the shipping under the commerce clause and therefore superior to the state’s regulations. The case involved many historical figures of business and law including Cornelius Vanderbilt and Daniel Webster.
The court decided in this case that the commerce clause allows Congress to regulate not only interstate commerce but also intrastate commerce (commerce within a state) that substantially impacts interstate commerce. This decision in Gibbons v. Ogden set the foundation for later cases such as Wickard v. Filburn that greatly expanded the ability of Congress to regulate commerce within a state itself.
[Last updated in January of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]