ZWeR 2010, 430

RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln RWS Verlag Kommunikationsforum GmbH, Köln 1611-1982 Zeitschrift für Wettbewerbsrecht ZWeR 2010 EntscheidungsbesprechungenWarren S. Grimes*

American Needle and Justice Stevens' Supreme Court Antitrust Legacy

After almost 35 years as a member of the United States Supreme Court, Justice John Paul Stevens has retired. His last antitrust opinion, American Needle Inc. v. NFL, was announced in May of 2010.1 The case is important for its clarification of Sherman Act conspiracy doctrine. By recognizing that the conduct of partially integration firms can still constitute a conspiracy, the decision preserves the reach of that 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. American Needle ends a long string of Supreme Court rulings favorable to defendants. 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 jurisprudential approach guided Justice Stevens' 35 years on the Court.

Contents

  • I. Background of this Litigation
    • 1. Preexisting US Law Governing Single-Entity Status
    • 2. The Solicitor General's Brief
  • II. American Needle in the Supreme Court
  • III. Analysis
  • IV. Justice Stevens' Legacy
  • V. Conclusions
*
*)
Professor, Southwestern Law School. John Kirkwood provided helpful comments on an earlier draft.
1
1)
130 S.Ct. 2201 (2010).

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