The Practice of Antitrust Law in Montana and Washington: Opportunities and Pitfalls

Pronouncements by William Baxter, President Reagan’s first and former antitrust chief, make it easy to acquire the impression that antitrust enforcement is virtually defunct today. Such an impression would, however, be seriously misleading. To begin with, at the same time that he declared some areas of traditional antitrust enforcement off limits, Baxter expressed his intention to prosecute certain other antitrust violations with zeal. These violations include horizontal minimum price-fixing, horizontal market allocation, bid-rigging, output restrictions, some forms of vertical price fixing, and mergers which create “significant potential for adverse horizontal effects in some relevant market.” Though the views and policies espoused by Baxter and other adherents to the “Chicago school of economics” will undoubtedly have some lasting impact on antitrust enforcement, there remain many influential supporters of traditional antitrust who have persuasively pointed to both theoretical and practical flaws in Baxter’s approach. As a consequence, it seems likely that antitrust enforcement will not follow Baxter’s views, but rather a course that lies somewhere between his views and more traditional ones.

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Douglas E. McClelland, Archibald S. Alexander, & Shawn B. Jensen The Practice of Antitrust Law in Montana and Washington: Opportunities and Pitfalls, 20 Gonz. L. Rev. 403 (1985).

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