Thursday, March 29, 2007
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Next month Chicago Loyola hosts the 2007 Loyola Antitrust Colloquium. One of the real treats of the conference will be to hear Daniel Crane's presentation of his forthcoming article Antitrust Antifederalism.
Abstract: U.S. antitrust law has been profoundly influenced by a historical aversion to direct federal superintendence of corporations. This ideological impulse began with Antifederalist opposition to Madison's proposal to grant Congress a general incorporation power and carried over to the Progressive Era where it defeated a proposed corporate regulatory model of antitrust. The antitrust antifederalist impulse thus enabled the rise of the competing crime-tort model, in which antitrust law creates a freestanding norm of industrial competition rather than a regulatory apparatus for policing the capital-concentrating effects of incorporation statutes. As it has interacted with the general features of the U.S. civil litigation apparatus, this crime-tort conceptualization has produced a variety of pathologies including an excessive focus on locating a “bad act” rather than specifying appropriate corporate structure; delegation of adjudicatory decision-making to generalist judges and juries rather than industrial policy specialists; the predominance of private enforcement over public enforcement; extension of antitrust law to non-corporate subjects, particularly the working class; and interference with federal competition policy by parochially interested state regulators. The one major exception to antitrust antifederalism's continuing dominance - the pre-merger notification system adopted in 1976 - reveals the advantages of the corporate regulatory model and suggests some steps that could be taken to rationalize the institutional structure of antitrust law.