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LEE v. STATE NEW JERSEY.

decided: October 28, 1907.

LEE
v.
STATE OF NEW JERSEY.



ERROR TO THE COURT OF ERRORS AND APPEALS OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY.

Author: Day

[ 207 U.S. Page 69]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

The plaintiffs in error were convicted in the Court of Quarter Sessions of Cumberland County, New Jersey, at the May term, 1903, of the offense of unlawfully dredging upon certain oyster beds for the purpose of catching oysters, contrary to the statute enacted in that State. This judgment was affirmed in the Court of Errors and Appeals of New Jersey and this writ of error seeks the reversal of that judgment.

Section 20 of the act of 1899, amended, Laws of 1901, p. 307, provides:

"Any person or persons who shall hereafter dredge upon or throw, take or cast his oyster dredge, or any other instrument used for the purpose of catching oysters, upon any oyster bed or ground duly marked, buoyed or staked up within the waters of the Delaware River, Delaware Bay and Maurice River Cove, in this State, belonging to any other person, without the permission of the lessee or lessees thereof, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and of the violation of the provisions of this act."

It is the contention of the plaintiffs in error that this statute violates the right of free navigation, and undertakes to regulate interstate commerce in violation of section 8, Article I, of the Federal Constitution, and deprives the plaintiff in error of rights secured by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The power of the State to regulate the oyster industry,

[ 207 U.S. Page 70]

     although the same is carried on under tidal waters in the State, is not contested, and could not successfully be. Smith v. Maryland, 18 How. 71; McCready v. Virginia, 94 U.S. 391; Manchester v. Massachusetts, 139 U.S. 240.

The objection to the legality of the conviction from the standpoint of rights protected by the Federal Constitution, as urged upon our attention, rests upon the argument that ยง 20, amended as above quoted, permits the conviction of a person who shall take an oyster dredge or other instrument used for the purpose of catching oysters, on any oyster bed or grounds within such navigable waters, thereby abridging and interfering with the right of free commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States. And it is argued that persons sailing over such waters, having an oyster-dredge aboard a boat, might be convicted of thus taking a dredge over such ground, in violation of the statute. Of this contention it is enough to say that in this case no such construction of the statute was made or enforced against the plaintiffs in error. Nor were they convicted because of any such state of facts; and it is well settled in this court that, because a state statute, when enforced in a state court against a class to which the party complaining does not belong, may work a deprivation of constitutional rights, that fact does not authorize the reversal of a judgment of a state court not enforcing the statute so as to deprive the party complaining of rights which are protected by the Federal Constitution. Hatch v. Reardon, 204 U.S. 152, 160, and cases there cited.

An inspection of this record shows that the count of the indictment under which the plaintiffs in error were convicted charged them with unlawfully dredging, throwing and casting dredges for the purpose of catching oysters upon certain leased lands in violation of the statute.

The testimony offered on the part of the State tends to show that certain dredges were thus thrown and cast for the purpose of catching oysters ...


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