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A Great Antitrust Web Site
John Bowen of Ripon College in Wisconsin has finally let us in on
the secret (below) that he has an antitrust Web site, one covering no less
than 72 antitrust decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court over roughly 100
years. And that he has had this site for about a decade!
If I understand his format correctly (after a preliminary visit), he
picked these 72 cases--which you'll notice average just under 1 per
year--via a single criterion, namely, that one or more of the 9 justices
DISSENTED from the Court's (majority) decision, thus creating a "debate"
situation. The opposing sides are presented via excerpts from the
conflicting opinions, majority-versus-dissent. It's obviously a marvelous
pedagogical device: John's economics students (and those of other
academics) can choose sides and bring the argument into his classroom.
Not being a lawyer (as I understand it), John has presented his site
without a line of commentary--not a clue as to what he thinks of the
"economics" in these 72 cases.
For those interested in the history of U.S. antitrust law--in the
year-by-year shaping of the country's "industrial policy" by our Supreme
Court--this is a splendid resource.
For those of us who are focused on the future--on antimonopoly
policy for the world's 200 countries in the years and decades ahead--he
needs to make a small addition: He should share with the rest of us the no
doubt rich policy debate that goes on in his classroom--and in those of all
the other economics professors who use his 72 cases. In other words, he
needs to set up an online discussion group, one devoted to the pros and cons
of the "economics" the Supreme Court has favored the country with (or
inflicted on it) in its antitrust decisions of the past century. His
student "debates" here should be presented online--and thus shared with the
rest of the world.
The U.S. has roughly 1,000 federal judges. 9 on the Supreme Court,
150 or so on the 13 appellate courts, and some 800 at the trial (district)
level. Each of them has 3 to 5 "law clerks," recent graduates of the
country's most strenuous law schools who do the actual writing of our
nation's antitrust opinions. Those 1,000 judges-- and their 4,000 or so
youthful ghost writers--all have computers on their desks and doubtless also
have Internet connections. Would they "listen in" as John's students --and
others--debated the "economics" of the 72 precedents they're relying on in
their day-to-day work of raping sound antimonopoly policy? Does water run
There can be no serious antitrust reform--in any country--until the
judges have been persuaded to embrace it. Or have been stripped of their
crippling role here. Until then, Ralph is, I fear, whistlin' Dixie.
Charles Mueller, Editor
ANTITRUST LAW & ECONOMICS REVIEW
At 10:59 PM 12/3/97 -0500, you wrote:
>I've put my collection of excerpts from Supreme Court antitrust opinions,
>covering 72 cases from 1895 through 1993 in which the Court "debates"
>antitrust economics issues, on my Web page:
>Comments, questions and suggestions from members of this list are welcome.