AuthorChristopher L. Sagers
The Supreme Court’s many emphatic generalizations over several
decades suggest that antitrust applies very broadly. “[A]ntitrust,” the
Court has said, “[is] a fundamental national economic p olicy.”
It is no
less than a “charter of freedom”
and our very “Magna Carta of free
When describing the scope of antitrust law in the abstract,
therefore, courts commonly speak in very broad terms. Because
“Congress intended to strike as broadly as it could” in enacting the
antitrust laws,
“[l]anguage more comprehensive” than those statutes
contain “is difficult to conceive.”
The breadth accorded the antitrust
laws by the courts “reflects the felt indispensable role of antitrust policy
in the maintenance of a free economy . . . .
One might then have thought that the scope of antitrust would be a
simple affair. If the law applies so broadly, then cases raising serious
issues of applicability would be rare. But in fact it is not simple at all.
The scope of antitrust is governed by dozens of federal statutes and by a
variety of elaborate caselaw doctrines. Numerous cases every year raise
. Carnation Co. v. Pac. Westbound Conf., 383 U.S. 213, 217-18 (1966)
(quoting United States v. Phila. Nat’l Bank, 374 U.S. 321, 350 -51
. Appalachian Coals, Inc. v. United States, 288 U.S. 344, 359 (1933).
. United States v. Topco Assocs., Inc., 405 U.S. 596 (1972). See also
National Soc’y of Prof’l Eng’rs v. United States, 435 U.S. 679, 695
(1978) (courts will not entertain limits on antitrust because “ultimately
competition will produce not only lower prices, but also better goods and
services”); Standard Oil Co. v. FTC, 340 U.S. 231, 248 (1951) (“The
heart of our national economic polic y has lo ng been faith in the value of
. Goldfarb v. Va. State Bar, 421 U.S. 773, 787 (1975).
. United States v. Se. Underwriters Ass’n, 322 U.S. 533, 553 (1944). See
also Standard Oil Co. o f N.J. v. United States, 221 U.S. 1, 59-60 (1911)
(Congress “deemed [it] essential b y an all-embracing enumeration to
make sure that no form of contract or combination by which an undue
restraint of interstate or foreign commerce was brought about could save
such restraint from condemnation.”).
. United States v. Phila. Nat’l Bank, 374 U.S. 321, 348 (1963).

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