The course studies the development, interpretation, and application of the antitrust laws of the United States. These laws are the Sherman Act (1890) prohibiting combinations in "restraint of trade" and "monopolization;" the Clayton Act (1914, 1936, 1950) prohibiting, in some circumstances, price discrimination, exclusive dealing and tie-ins, and mergers; and the Federal Trade Commission Act (1914) prohibiting "unfair methods of competition."
The antitrust laws are in a sense America's economic constitution, directed to protecting and maintaining the free market capitalist system by placing restraints on private economic power. The objective is a system of economic freedom and democracy (voting with dollars) in which basic economic decisions are made by market forces resulting from individual choices. Antitrust seeks to protect and maintain competition as the basic economic regulator, thereby avoiding specific economic regulation by government. Antitrust is the granddaddy of law and economics and an excellent introduction to that method of analysis, which now pervades all areas of law.
No background in economics is necessary; the very few basic economic (largely common sense) principles involved are explained and discussed by the text and the instructor. The course is an important part of the "civics" training of every lawyer—useful in understanding and criticizing the American economic system and even in simply reading newspaper accounts of government regulation of business. The course is also very "practical:" antitrust issues arise in connection with many business and consumer concerns, and antitrust practitioners have been among the bar's most prosperous and influential members. Most important, the course is, in the opinion of most students who have taken it, interesting and fun.