Supreme Court narrows antitrust exemptions for local government

The Gordon, Thomas, Honeywell’s Energy and Natural Resources Law Blog reports on a recent US Supreme Court decision narrows antitrust exemptions for local government entities. I’m assuming it will apply to government-owned broadband utilities, as well as their energy utilities. GTH says, 

In a decision of great interest to Washington’s Public Hospital Districts, Public Utility Districts, Port Districts, and many other state and local government entities, the Supreme Court this week issued an opinion clarifying and narrowing antitrust immunity for state and local governments. As a result of the decision, public agencies will need to exercise great care when taking actions that could restrict competition.

Under the “state-action immunity doctrine,” the courts have long recognized that local government entities are immune from federal antitrust liability if they act under state law intended to restrict competition. But, for immunity to apply, a local government entity must act under a “clearly articulated and affirmatively expressed state policy to displace competition.”

The decision may also have implications for regulated private utilities, according to GTH. In any case, it’s worth assuring that your legal teams are aware of and up-to-speed on the implications of this decision.


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