The Harvard School
“It is competition, not competitors, which the Act protects. But we
cannot fail to recognize Congress’ desire to promote competition
through the protection of viable, small, locally owned business.
Congress appreciated that occasional higher costs and prices might
result from the maintenance of fragmented industries and markets. It
resolved these competing considerations in favor of decentralization.
We must give favor to that decision.”
--Chief Justice Earl Warren,
Brown Shoe Inc. v. United States
In the same year that prosecution of the Socony-Vacuum case began, Jackson also initiated proceedings against the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) in what was to become the longest trial in American history. Even as the Court and the Justice Department were working to formulate per se rules in hopes of streamlining the progress of antitrust cases through the court system, it was evident that there were still severe problems with the antitrust enforcement apparatus. Although the case, upon final judgment in July 1942, was eligible for direct appeal to the Supreme Court,1 the Court was unable to hear the case because it lacked a quorum, as Roosevelt’s penchant for appointing Justice Department and New Deal insiders to the bench had resulted in a Court stacked with judges who had already been involved in prosecuting the case prior to its reaching the Court. The appellate trial fell to a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit, with Judge Learned Hand penning that court’s final opinion.2 Hand’s treatment of the case is as notable for its full and balanced consideration of