National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1886-1906: We encounter prosperity and its perils in an industrial age

January 30, 1905
Meat and margarine: the Court opens the door to some federal regulation

Workers in meat plant

The Supreme Court’s had a lot to say about food—and federal power—lately.

Today’s decision in the Swift case says that the Chicago stockyards are part of the interstate commerce in meat, which means the federal government can regulate them under the Sherman Antitrust Act. It’s quite a shift from the Court’s position 10 years ago in a famous sugar monopoly case.

Last year, in a case involving artificially colored margarine, the Court said the Constitution gives Congress sweeping tax powers. So if Congress thinks a product is unhealthy or unsafe, it can tax it out of production.

These new decisions mean the federal government can regulate many of the products we use…and the businesses that make them.

Read about it in the New York times

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