Brief Fact Summary. The Supreme Court of the United States uses the state’s police power to uphold a Delaware law that restricts federal navigation in a small navigable creek.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A state law is valid if it has a legitimate purpose, that purpose is consistent with the police power to regulate, and it does not violate a federal law on the subject.
The power of congress to regulate commerce, includes the regulation of intercourse and navigation, and consequently the power to determine what shall or shall not be deemed, in judgment of law, an obstruction of navigation.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Whether the state law allowing restriction of federal navigation of Black-Bird Creek violates the commerce clause.
Held. No. Judgment affirmed. Since, Congress has not passed a specific law to control state legislation over small navigable creeks, Delaware’s law empowering the Plaintiff to dam the creek is not repugnant to the power to regulate commerce in its dormant state and is not in conflict with any law on the subject.
Discussion. The purpose of the state law was to merely regulate the creek’s passageways which is consistent with the police power. Therefore, the state’s law allowing the dam did not violate the commerce clause.