The U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the federal interstate commerce power shaped the course of the prohibition movement. In the late nineteenth century, as various states took a more active role in regulating the economy or promoting reforms, interests opposed to these policies sought to use the federal nature of the polity to offset their losses in the states. Opponents of reform and regulation turned to the federal courts-- asking them to interpret the rules of the polity--to limit state policies. Thus, the brewers, after failing to establish a Fourteenth Amendment right to make liquor, turned to the federal commerce power to curtail the effects of state prohibition. Two cases among the many they instigated reached the Supreme Court, Bowman v. Chicago and Northwestern Railroad ( 1888) and Leisy v. Hardin ( 1890). In these two cases, the Court attempted to infuse old constitutional doctrines with new meaning. It sought to define the limits of state action over liquor so as to insure freedom of commerce within the nation and protect the federal government's power to regulate commerce.
The outcome of the Bowman and Leisy cases also created a