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Future of Agency Created to Keep Mob Off Docks Now Up to Supreme Court

Nonetheless, the commission’s critics argue that it is obsolete because the mob’s control of the region’s docks ended long ago. Those critics include the International Longshoremen’s Association, which represents most workers at the ports, and the New York Shipping Association, whose members operate the terminals where huge cargo ships are unloaded.Sympathetic to the complaints, Chris Christie, Mr. Murphy’s Republican predecessor, signed legislation intended to dissolve the commission in one of his last acts as governor. After Mr. Murphy took office, the commission sued him in federal court, arguing that New Jersey could not unilaterally dismantle an agreement between the two states that Congress had blessed.The agency won that legal round, but lost when New Jersey appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. At that point, the commission itself asked the Supreme Court to consider the case, which it declined to do last year.It was then that Mr. Murphy notified the commission that the state would be withdrawing its commissioner on March 28 of this year. The shipping association, which pays fees that provide most of the agency’s budget, said it would stop doing so at the same time.But New York officials have strenuously resisted the efforts to disband the commission, and the rare step they took on Monday showed how strong their objections are. The last high-profile tangle between the two states was 30 years ago when New Jersey sued New York over ownership of Ellis Island near the Statue of Liberty.In a statement, Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat like Mr. Murphy and Ms. James, the attorney general, said that New York “cannot afford to lose the waterfront commission’s unique authority and expertise in combating crime.”Terminating the agency, she added, “would cause immediate and irreparable harm to New York state, from increased crime to higher prices to employment inequities.”

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