United States v. E. C. Knight Company

PETITIONER:United States
RESPONDENT:E. C. Knight Company
LOCATION: United States Congress

DECIDED BY: Fuller Court (1894-1895)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

ARGUED: Oct 24, 1894
DECIDED: Jan 21, 1895

John G. Johnson – for the appellees
Laurence Maxwell, Jr. – for the appellants
Samuel Field Phillips – fort the appellants

Facts of the case

The Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890 as a response to the public concern in the growth of giant combinations controlling tranportation, industry, and commerce. The Act aimed to stop the concentration of wealth and economic power in the hands of the few. It outlawed “every contract, combination…or conspiracy, in restraint of trade” or interstate commerce, and it declared every attempt to monopolize any part of trade or commerce to be illegal. The E.C. Knight Company was such a combination controlling over 98 percent of the sugar-refining business in the United States.


Did Congress exceed its constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause when it enacted the Sherman Anti-Trust Act?