Thursday, April 10, 2008
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Randal Picker of the University of Chicago Law School has posted Take Two: Stare Decisis in Antitrust - The Per Se Rule Against Horizontal Price-Fixing.
ABSTRACT: In this essay prepared for the American Bar Association's 56th Antitrust Law Spring Meeting, I consider two issues that pertain to the overall question of what antitrust doctrines are up for retirement. First, we can't consider that without understanding how the Supreme Court approaches stare decisis in antitrust. The Court's 5-4 decision in Leegin identified some of the fault lines on this issue. The Court has suggested that it should approach stare decisis differently in statutory areas from the way it approaches it when it reconsiders constitutional decisions. I think that that is wrong and that the Court should apply its approach to stare decisis in constitutional cases to cases based on statutes, such as the Sherman Act. Second, I focus on the evil of evils: horizontal price-fixing. I don't think that the Court is likely to retire the per se rule against horizontal price-fixing, certainly not directly. We might only realize that it had been overturned after the fact, after the Court had so chipped away at the doctrine that nothing remained. That said, as again Leegin itself suggested, we can't be fully confident that horizontal price-fixing is always pernicious, especially when it might be implemented as part of a larger vertical arrangement.