United States v. E. C. Knight Co.: The Background
The case of United States v. E. C. Knight Co. began when Congress passed the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in 1890. This landmark piece of legislation was passed in response to the public concern in the growth of large combinations of industry, transportation and commerce. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act aimed to halt the concentration of economic power and wealth in the hands of the few. The act outlawed every combination, contract or conspiracy in restraint of interstate commerce or trade and it declared attempts to monopolize any portion of trade or commerce as illegal maneuvers.
The Supreme Court case of United States v. E. C. Knight Co. ultimately limited the government’s power to control monopolies. The case of United States v. E. C. Knight Co. was first heard by the Supreme Court on October 24th of 1984 and a decision was rendered on January 21st of 1895.
United States v. E. C. Knight Co.: The Question
The fundamental question concerning United States v. E. C. Knight Co. revolved around whether or not Congress exceeded its constitutional authority under the commerce Clause to the United States Constitution when it enacted the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
United States v. E. C. Knight Co.: The Decision
The Sherman Anti-Trust Act, in an 8 to 1 vote, was deemed constitutional in United States v. E. C. Knight Co. That said, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Act did not apply to manufacturing, for the industry was not defined as a commerce business. Additionally, the Supreme Court in United States v. E. C. Knight Co. ruled that the law did not reach the admitted monopolization of manufacturing.
The E.C. Knight Company was targeted as one of the monopolies that the Sherman Act aimed to counteract. This Company controlled almost 100 percent of the sugar-refining business in the United States. During the United States v. E. C. Knight Co. trial, the Court found that no violation of the Sherman Act was undertaken by the Company because the acquisition of numerous refineries involved intrastate commerce. Therefore, in United States v. E. C. Knight Co., the Court ruled that the act did not lead to control of interstate commerce, thus rulings its effects as only indirect and/or accidental.
The decision in United States v. E. C. Knight Co. ultimately classified the manufacturing industry as an area of business that cannot be regulated by the United States’ Congress under the Commerce Clause.