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US: Justices react as SCOTUS hears first dental board antitrust arguments

 |  October 14, 2014

Arguments began Tuesday in a lawsuit that has reached the US Supreme Court initiated by the Federal Trade Commission that questions whether North Carolina’s state dental board enjoys antitrust immunity.

According to reports, the nine justices have already expressed conflicting views on the matter. The majority of the justices were said to appear troubled that North Carolina did not play a greater supervisory role over its dental board, but also expressed concern over ruling in favor of the FTC, which argues that the board violated antitrust law by barring non-dentists from conducting teeth whitening procedures.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made her view clear that the dental board was wrong to issue such a ban. “It had no authority to do that,” she said Tuesday.

Similarly, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the board has an “inherent” self-interest at play.

But Justice Stephen Breyer offered a view that raised doubts at the FTC’s view, noting that there are benefits to specialists having a regulatory role in their profession. Part of the FTC’s argument is that the dental board, being made up of its own dentists, is more of a trade association and had prevented potential competitors from offering cheaper services to consumers.

The Supreme Court is set to rule on the case by June, say reports, and will determine how state regulators can be shielded from allegations of anticompetitive conduct.

Full content: Reuters

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