Federal Trade Commission v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association

PETITIONER: Federal Trade Commission
RESPONDENT: Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association
LOCATION: Ohio House of Representatives

DOCKET NO.: 88-1198
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 493 US 411 (1990)
ARGUED: Oct 30, 1989
DECIDED: Jan 22, 1990

ADVOCATES:
Ernest J. Isenstadt - on behalf of the Petitioner/Cross-Respondent
Willard K. Tom - on behalf of the Respondents/Cross-Petitioners

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Federal Trade Commission v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 30, 1989 in Federal Trade Commission v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 22, 1990 in Federal Trade Commission v. Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in No. 88-1198 Federal Trade Commission versus Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association.

In this case, the respondents are a group of lawyers who represent indigent criminal defendants in the District of Columbia.

During a part of 1983, they agreed to refuse further clients until the district increase their fees.

The district eventually capitulated to their demand, and the Federal Trade Commission initiated an enforcement proceeding, and after a hearing found that the lawyers’ conduct was a per se violation of the antitrust laws.

The Court of Appeals vacated the Commission’s order but in an opinion authored by Justice Stevens, we hold that the First Amendment does not insulate respondents’ conduct from an application of per se antitrust analysis.

The expressive component of this boycott does not adequately distinguish it from other price-fixing agreements subject to those rules.

We accordingly vacate the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remand for further proceedings.

Justice Brennan has filed an opinion dissenting in part in which Justice Marshall joins; Justice Blackmun has also filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.