Constitutional Constraints on Federal Antitrust Law
America’s antitrust laws have long held a special status in the federal statutory hierarchy. The Supreme Court of the United States, for example, has famously stated that the “[a]ntitrust laws in general, and the Sherman Act in particular, are the Magna Carta of free enterprise.” However, various constitutionally based interests—such as federalism, freedom to petition the government, freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion—at times may seem to conflict with the economic-based goals of the antitrust laws. The courts have taken into account such interests in limiting the reach of antitrust. Whether they have struck an appropriate balance, however, is a matter of significant debate.