Mergers and the Clayton Act

By David Dale Martin | Go to book overview

4. Judicial Interpretation of Section 7

The Supreme Court of the United States is the final arbiter of the meaning of the substantive provisions of the federal antitrust statutes. The Federal Trade Commission administered Section 7 of the Clayton Act for more than a decade before the Supreme Court interpreted the language of the statute. From 1926 through 1934, the court reviewed the decisions of the commission in several cases and established the policy followed by the commission in enforcing Section 7 until its amendment in 1950.

The impetus for the amendment came primarily from the Supreme Court decision that the commission was without power to order divestment of assets acquired as a result of an illegal stock acquisition. The court's interpretation of the standard of illegality of the statute was sufficient, in itself, to render Section 7 impotent as a means of supplementing the provisions of the Sherman Act in respect to corporate mergers.


Federal Trade Commission Jurisdiction over Asset Acquisitions

In a series of cases beginning with three decisions rendered together on November 23, 1926,1 and ending with the Arrow-Hart

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1
Federal Trade Commission v. Western Meat Co., Thatcher Manufacturing Co. v. Federal Trade Commission, Swift & Co. v. Federal Trade Commission ( 1926), 272 U.S. 554.

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