While the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) are widely viewed as the stewards of U.S. antitrust laws, state attorneys general have long played an important, albeit varying, role within the United States’ antitrust enforcement regime. During periods of lax federal enforcement, state attorneys general have often ramped up their prosecution of potentially anticompetitive business practices and transactions. During periods of vigorous federal enforcement, they have often served as strong partners for the DOJ and FTC by offering valuable insights about competitive dynamics in local markets, assisting with obtaining information from key market participants within their states, and helping to develop and implement litigation strategies for cases tried before federal judges presiding in their states.
In recent years, many state attorneys general have significantly escalated their antitrust enforcement activity and demonstrated an increasing willingness to bring enforcement actions even when the DOJ or FTC have expressly declined to do so. Leading the charge has been the New York State Attorney General Office, which for decades has been a vigorous enforcer of both state and federal antitrust laws.
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