Price Fixing and the Return of the Robber Barons

One of the most sweeping yet little noted changes that has occurred in American life over the past several decades, and especially within the last couple of years, has been the ever rightward drift of the nation's highest courts on economic issues. Nathan Newman recently noted that in recent rulings by the Supreme Court, "in almost every case where corporations challenged state regulations or taxing powers this term, the corporations won and state power lost." Yet few people seem to have taken notice.

The scant attention these rulings have received is in stark contrast to their potentially dramatic effects. Take, for example, last year's ruling in the case of Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS.  By a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a 1911 precedent and, in the words of a front page article in today's Wall Street Journal, ruled that manufacturers could "set minimum prices on their products and force retailers to refrain from discounting."

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