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Case Basics
New York
Facts of the Case 

A state law required all vessels docking in New York City to provide a list of passengers and to post security against the passengers from becoming public charges. Miln, the master of the ship "Emily," refused to comply with the law. The city sought to collect a penalty for Miln's failure to file the report.


Does the New York law violate the Commerce Clause which vests all power over interstate and foreign commerce in Congress?


The Court upheld the state law. The justices ducked the Commerce Clause issue and invoked what was to become the state "police power" -- the right of a sovereign to take all necessary steps to protect the health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. According to Barbour, who wrote the majority opinion, a state is as competent "to provide precautionary measures against the moral pestilence of paupers, vagabonds, and possible convicts, as it is to guard against the physical pestilence, which may arise from unsound and infectious articles imported." The Court reversed Miln in 1941. (See Edwards v. California)

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NEW YORK v. MILN. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 25 August 2015. <>.
NEW YORK v. MILN, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, (last visited August 25, 2015).
"NEW YORK v. MILN," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 25, 2015,