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Ninth Circuit follies: AT&T v. linkLine

WSJ editorial on a pending case on the certiorari docket:

Long ago, in a legal galaxy far, far away, American courts saw antitrust law as a way to protect competitors from, well, the competition. These days everyone outside the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concedes that if antitrust has any claim to legitimacy, it lies in its ambition to maximize consumer welfare, not competitor protection. ...

The problem is that a price-squeeze complaint amounts to telling one company -- AT&T in this case -- that it is charging consumers too little. And forcing AT&T to raise its retail prices might help linkLine, but it would hurt consumers, who would be forced to pay more for Internet access in the name of preserving a "competitive" market. Our courts used to think that punishing consumers to keep competitors alive was normal, reasonable behavior. Antitrust regulators in Europe still think this way. And so, apparently, does the Ninth Circuit, which may explain why it ruled that linkLine's case should go forward.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.