Gulf Oil Corporation v. Copp Paving Company, Inc.

PETITIONER: Gulf Oil Corporation
RESPONDENT: Copp Paving Company, Inc.
LOCATION: Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union No. 100

DOCKET NO.: 73-1012
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 419 US 186 (1974)
ARGUED: Oct 21, 1974 / Oct 22, 1974
DECIDED: Dec 16, 1974

ADVOCATES:
Moses Lasky - for petitioners
Martin M. Shapero - for respondents

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Gulf Oil Corporation v. Copp Paving Company, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 22, 1974 in Gulf Oil Corporation v. Copp Paving Company, Inc.
Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 21, 1974 in Gulf Oil Corporation v. Copp Paving Company, Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - December 16, 1974 in Gulf Oil Corporation v. Copp Paving Company, Inc.

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in 73-1012, Gulf Oil Corporation against Copp Paving Company will be announced by Mr. Justice Powell.

Lewis F. Powell, Jr.:

This is a private anti-trust case that comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

The respondents who were the complainants were below are in the business of making asphaltic concrete.

This product used for servicing highways must be delivered within a radius of some 35 miles from the “hot plants” that make it.

The defendants in the suit included oil companies which provide the liquid petroleum ingredient for the asphalt and two of their subsidiaries which compete with complainants.

All sales involved in this case were made exclusively intrastate in the Los Angeles area.

But a portion of the asphaltic concrete was used to construct local segments of interstate highways.

The plaintiffs allege various violations of the Robinson-Patman and Clayton Acts.

The question that comes to us in view of the local nature of the asphaltic concrete market is whether these Acts are applicable.

The complainants contend that they are since the asphalt goes into interstate highways that are instrumentalities of commerce.

This view was sustained by the Court of Appeals.

We however take a different view.

The language of Robinson-Patman and the Clayton Acts is not as expansive as that of the Sherman Act.

The Acts here involve apply to forbidden transactions in commerce.

We hold first that use in interstate highways is not enough to place these transactions in commerce as a matter of law.

Nor do we think these transactions come within these Acts simply because they may affect commerce.

The language and legislative history of the Robinson-Patman Act do not support and effects on commerce theory.

And as to the Clayton Act provisions, there are no showings that the alleged restraints had any effect on commerce in this case.

Accordingly, we reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice Marshall filed a concurring opinion.

Mr. Justice Douglas filed a dissenting opinion in which Mr. Justice Brennan joined.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice Powell.