Wright on Frank on Chemerinsky on Roberts

by Ted Frank on August 16, 2007

Josh Wright expands on my line “we all know darn well that many ‘pro-business’ legal rules favor consumers and employees as a group ex ante,” and is even harsher with Chemerinsky than I was:

[W]hat gets me about this section is the heading: “Supreme Court favors businesses over consumers.” Is that really what these cases are about? I have read political accounts of the Supreme Court opinions in newspapers and periodicals or blogs that read this way (”The Roberts Court wants to stick it to the consumer — I can prove it: the Defendant won in all 4 cases this term”). But I’ve not heard law professors take this route too often, and never an antitrust commentator. In fact, a reasonable reading of the Court’s antitrust output this year suggests that the issues are much more nuanced than this oversimplified soundbite that pits business against consumers.

Is Leegin a pro-business and anti-consumer decision? I’m not sure I even know what that means in this context. … Justice Kennedy’s opinion on behalf of the majority does allow manufacturers to engage in behavior that was previously constrained. Perhaps that is a sufficient condition for a pro-business label? On the other hand, the very reason the Court overturned the per se rule was the result of evidence that minimum resale price maintenance made consumers better off! Now, one might think that the Court got it wrong and that RPM actually harms consumers. … But to argue that the Court got there by favoring business over consumers is not accurate, and obvious from reading the opinion.

Earlier on Leegin: Skip Oliva, Jul. 26.