• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In a transitional decision, the Supreme Court approved of a statute limiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages but warned that there were limits to a state’s police power.

In the 1880’s Peter Mugler was fined and imprisoned for continuing to manufacture beer after the Kansas legislature passed a statute forbidding its sale or manufacture without a license. In appealing the conviction, Mugler argued that Kansas had no authority to prevent him from manufacturing beer for his private consumption or for sale outside the state. Although Mugler contended that the state law constituted a deprivation of property without due process, the state maintained that the law was a valid exercise of its police power, designed to protect the safety, health, morality, and welfare of its citizens.Police powersBusiness, regulation of;Mugler v. Kansas[Mugler v. Kansas]Manufacturing, regulation of;Mugler v. Kansas[Mugler v. Kansas]Police powers

Although the Supreme Court voted eight to one to uphold the Kansas law, Justice John Marshall HarlanHarlan, John Marshall;Mugler v. Kansas[Mugler v. Kansas] wrote for the majority that the Court had a duty to scrutinize governmental regulations to determine whether they had a “substantial relation” to the legitimate ends of the police power. He observed, moreover, that “there were limits beyond which legislation cannot rightfully go.” In dissent, Justice Stephen J. FieldField, Stephen J.;Mugler v. Kansas[Mugler v. Kansas] vigorously argued that the law violated Mugler’s rights to substantive liberty and property under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Together, Harlan’s opinion and Field’s dissent helped prepare the way for the triumph of the substantive due process doctrine in Allgeyer v. Louisiana[case]Allgeyer v. Louisiana[Allgeyer v. Louisiana] (1897).[case]Allgeyer v. Louisiana[Allgeyer v. Louisiana][case]Mugler v. Kansas[Mugler v. Kansas]

Allgeyer v. Louisiana

Due process, substantive

Police powers

Property rights

Categories: History