By the end of its last term, the Supreme Court decided four significant antitrust cases, resulting in one of the most antitrust-focused terms in the Court’s history. In rendering decisions favorable to the defendants in all four cases, the Court quickly drew the dreaded “pro-business” label. Commentators on the left criticized the decisions as marking a hard-right turn on antitrust policy, while those on the right lauded the Court’s restoration of free-market principles to competition analysis.
These broad pronouncements overstate the similarities among the cases, which arose in a wide range of industries and raised quite different legal issues. Bell Atlantic v. Twombly was a suit by local telephone and Internet service subscribers against major providers of those services; it addressed the pleading standard a complaint must meet to avoid dismissal of a Sherman Act conspiracy claim. In Leegin Creative Leather Products v. PSKS, a women’s apparel store’s lawsuit against a maker of high-end leather accessories, the Court considered whether a manufacturer’s setting of a minimum resale price for its goods is per se illegal or requires a more extensive consideration of competitive effects to assess liability.
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