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US: Supreme Court backs American Express in merchant fee dispute

 |  June 25, 2018

The US Supreme Court on Monday, June 25, sided with American Express Co and against 11 states, ruling that the company’s policy of forbidding merchants from encouraging customers to use rival credit cards with lower fees does not violate federal antitrust law.

In a 5-4 ruling, the court held that the company’s anti-steering provisions do not violate federal antitrust laws.

Ohio and 10 others states—Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, Rhode Island, Utah and Vermont—brought the challenge, arguing that the company’s rule violates antitrust laws by restricting trade.

The states claimed that the rules had the actual market effect of raising the fees credit card companies charge merchants and that the increased costs have been passed on to the consumer.

American Express, however, argued its rules have allowed it to compete in a market where Visa and MasterCard command a combined share of 68% of card transactions.

Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the majority opinion, which Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch joined.

Justice Stephen Breyer filed a dissenting opinion, which the other members of the court’s liberal wing, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, joined.

Full Content: The Hill

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