WILLSON v. BLACKBIRD CREEK MARSH CO.
The state of Delaware authorized the Blackbird Creek Marsh Company to construct a dam spanning the Blackbird Creek. Willson, the licensed owner of a sailing vessel, was travelling on the Creek and broke through the dam. The Company successfully sued Willson for trespassing and obtained a court order for Willson to pay damages. Willson then brought the case to the Supreme Court.
Did Delaware's authorization of the building of the dam unconstitutionally infringe upon Congress's powers under the Commerce Clause?
In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Act's interference with the navigation of the Blackbird Creek was "an affair between the government of Delaware and its citizens," and was not in conflict with the Commerce Clause. The Court found that Congress had taken no actions with which the Delaware authorization could conflict: "We do not think that the Act. . .can. . .be considered as repugnant to the power to regulate commerce in its dormant state, or as being in conflict with any law passed on the subject."