Munn v. Illinois

Munn v. Illinois, 94 U.S. 113 (1877), was a United States Supreme Court case dealing with corporate rates and agriculture. The Munn case opened the door for states to regulate certain businesses within their borders, including railroads, and was an important case in the struggle for public regulation of private enterprise in post-Civil War America. Chief Justice Waite argued that the states may regulate the use of private property "when such regulation becomes necessary for the public good." Waite resurrected a Latin legal doctrine to support his view: "When property is affected with a public interest, it ceases to be juris privati only." Munn was one of six cases, the so-called Granger cases, all decided in the United States Supreme Court during the same term, all bearing on the same point, and all decided on the same principles. Later court decisions, however, sharply curtailed the government’s power to regulate business.

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