In landmark decision that could clip the wings of regulators, SCOTUS holds that licensing boards may be subject to antitrust suits

In a decision that could have far-reaching implications against over-reach by state licensing Boards, today the United States Supreme Court ruled that under certain circumstances their actions could constitute violations of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

The issue in the case of North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, No. 13-534, addressed the attempt by the Appellant to punish the provision of teeth whitening services by non-dentists.  

SCOTUS ruled that the facts that (i) the eight-member licensing board consisted of six dentists who were selected by the state’s licensed dentists and (ii) the panel operated largely outside of supervision by the State weighed in favor of denying the panel members the same immunity granted to the State under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Given that licensing panels exist, at least in part, for the purpose of limiting competition in the provision of services offered by various professions, to the extent that they have the forgoing characteristic, both public and private Sherman Anti-Trust actions may lie.

Read about the decision here in the New York Times.

Read the decision here.

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