Monday, February 21, 2011
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Warren S. Grimes, Southwestern Law School describes American Needle and Justice Stevens’ Supreme Court Antitrust Legacy.
ABSTRACT: Justice John Paul Stevens last antitrust opinion, American Needle Inc. v. NFL, is important for its clarification of Sherman Act conspiracy doctrine. By recognizing that the conduct of joint ventures or partially integrated firms can still constitute a conspiracy, the decision preserves the reach of Section 1 of the Sherman Act as the primary tool for maintaining competition. The decision also provides a fitting opportunity for an assessment of Stevens’ role in shaping US antitrust jurisprudence. In contrast to many recent Court decisions that have ignored the facts of the dispute to declaim sweeping policy-oriented changes to US antitrust law, Justice Stevens’ opinion demonstrates that the Court is still capable of acting as a traditional judicial tribunal, deciding cases narrowly on their facts. This cautious and fact-anchored jurisprudence is a hallmark of Justice Stevens’ opinions.