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What was the Munn v. Illinois case?

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In the 1877 case of Munn v. the State of Illinois, the court found the Chicago grain warehouse firm Munn & Scott guilty of violating a law that set maximum rates for how much private companies could charge for the storage and transportation of agricultural products, explains Cornell Law. Munn & Scott appealed the conviction on grounds that the regulation represented an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process.

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The Supreme Court heard the appeal in 1877 and ruled in favor of the state of Illinois. Chief Justice Morrison Remick Waite spoke for the majority, asserting that state power to regulate extends to private industries if they affect the public interest. In this case, because grain storage facilities were for public use, their rates were subject to public regulation, reports Laws.com. Chief Justice Waite noted that the government regulates the conduct of its citizens and the manner in which they use their property when regulation is necessary for the public good, explains the Legal Information Institute.

Munn v. Illinois was a major blow against the Granger movement, a group of farmers who fought against state regulation of the agriculture industry in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, notes History of American Business.

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