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Munn v. Illinois

Setting The Boundary Between State And Federal Regulation, Further Readings


Munn & Scott


State of Illinois

Appellant's Claim

That the state law of Illinois requiring that a warehouse operate under a state license and that it conform to state-set rates violated the due process guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Chief Lawyers for Appellant

W. C. Goudy, John N.Jewett

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Attorney General of Illinois

Justices for the Court

Joseph P. Bradley, Nathan Clifford, David Davis, Ward Hunt, Samuel Freeman Miller, Noah Haynes Swayne, Morrison Remick Waite (writing for the Court)

Justices Dissenting

Stephen Johnson Field, William Strong


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

1 March 1877


That it was appropriate for the state to regulate a state activity; that even though grain elevators operated as part of an interstate network of commerce, it was legitimate for the state to regulate them as long as Congress had not legislated in the area; that the act of Illinois setting up state regulation was not repugnant to the Constitution.


The decision demarcated between strictly state regulation of domestic commerce within a state and interstate commerce which should be regulated by Congress; it further indicated that business activities were protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, even though that amendment had been passed to protect former slaves.

Related Cases

  • Slaughterhouse Cases, 16 Wallace 36 (1873).
  • American Sugar Refining Co. v. Louisiana, 217 U.S. 563 (1900).
  • Nebbia v. New York, 291 U.S. 502 (1934).

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1833 to 1882