Avoiding Impotence: Rethinking the Standards for Applying State Antitrust Laws to Interstate Commerce

By Lamb, David W. | Vanderbilt Law Review, May 2001 | Go to article overview

Avoiding Impotence: Rethinking the Standards for Applying State Antitrust Laws to Interstate Commerce


Lamb, David W., Vanderbilt Law Review


Ratio est legis anima.

("The reason for the law is its soul.")1

I. INTRODUCTION

State antitrust laws are broadly constructed.2 With sweeping, general terms, often mirroring the language of the federal antitrust laws,3 most state antitrust statutes manifest a legislative design to prevent-and to punish-a variety of commercial activities that are anticompetitive in purpose or effect.4 These statutes, in conjunction with consumer protection statutes, constitute the primary vehicles through which state authorities protect consumers from harmful, anticompetitive behavior.5 Of course, despite the importance of state antitrust laws in preserving a competitive marketplace, the Constitution confines their reach.6 Through the Commerce Clause, the Constitution vests in Congress the exclusive IMAGE FORMULA6power to regulate interstate commerce. Accordingly, since passage of the Sherman Act in 1890,8 Congress has promulgated an extensive body of antitrust legislation regulating interstate commercial conduct.9 Another federal constraint on state antitrust laws arises through the Supremacy Clause.10 To the extent that state antitrust laws conflict with federal legislation in the same field, courts will find them constitutionally invalid.11

State antitrust statutes, however, are not completely preempted by federal antitrust laws.12 Instead, the legislative history accompanying most state and federal antitrust statutes indicates that the two sets of statutes were designed to function as equally potent ingredients in a comprehensive protective scheme.13 In fact, early federal antitrust legislation directly reflected the policies behind the state antitrust laws of the late nineteenth century; they also reflected contemporary principles of common law.14 As coexisting and complementary instruments, state and federal antitrust statutes form an excellent example of the potential for effective multi-layered legislation. In one court's analysis, the relationship between the federal and state antitrust laws is a quintessential example of "cooperative federalism."15

Problems arise, however, when attempting to determine exactly how far the reach of state antitrust legislation actually extends within the federal scheme. Arguably, given the limitations IMAGE FORMULA8

imposed by the Commerce Clause, state antitrust laws should cover only conduct that is "predominantly intrastate in nature."16 Application of this standard, however, is increasingly problematic in a modern context. Federal regulatory authority under the Commerce Clause has expanded significantly throughout the twentieth century;17 thus it may be appropriate to reevaluate the validity of maintaining a strict interstate/intrastate dichotomy in the application of antitrust laws. For example, if even discrete, local transactions, through their tangential effect on interstate commerce, are subject to Congressional regulation,18 little, if any, commercial behavior remains that can fairly be labeled "intrastate commerce." Defining interstate commerce too broadly will thus leave no transactions in the intrastate category, and state antitrust laws confined to in-state conduct will become, in effect, dead letters.19

Such an outcome comports neither with the intent of the antitrust laws' drafters nor with the idea of coexisting state and federal legislative schemes. Indeed, even the Supreme Court has recognized that state laws may constitutionally reach transactions that are on some level "interstate" in nature.20 The extent of this reach is the primary focus of this Note. Accordingly, this Note explores how the courts should characterize "intrastate commerce" in order to preserve the continued viability of state antitrust laws. It also addresses the extent to which the federal and state antitrust laws overlap or, in contrast, the extent to which they fatally conflict. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Avoiding Impotence: Rethinking the Standards for Applying State Antitrust Laws to Interstate Commerce
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.