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US Supreme Court rules against abortion clinic, antitrust claims

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] issued two unanimous rulings Tuesday, limiting the scope of both the Hobbs Act [text] and the Sherman Antitrust Act [text]. In Scheidler v. National Organization for Women, Inc. [Duke Law backgrounder], 04-1244, the Court ruled that the Hobbs Act's prohibition on threats of violence did not shield abortion clinics from demonstrations by anti-abortion protestors. The Court, per Justice Breyer [Oyez profile], ruled that the Hobbs Act only covered threats of violence related to extortion and robbery. The holding, which expands on a previous ruling [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court in the case, effectively ends the claims of abortion clinics under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act [text] and an injunction issued [PDF text] by the US 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text]. AP has more.

In Texaco Inc. v. Dagher [Duke Law backgrounder], 04-805, the Court unanimously ruled that price setting by a joint-venture of two competing companies is not a per se violation of Section 1 [text] of the Sherman Antitrust Act. In the case, the plaintiffs had challenged price setting [JURIST report] by Equilon Enterprises and Motiva Enterprises, joint-ventures of Texaco Inc. and Shell Oil Co. [corporate websites]. Justice Thomas [Oyez profile], writing for the Court, noted that per se liability under the Act only applied to "plainly anticompetitive" schemes that needed no detailed analysis. The Court found instead that Shell and Texaco were not competing with each other based on the existence of the joint-venture between the two. Read the Court's opinion [PDF text]. AP has more. Judge Alito did not take part in either of the decisions, which were argued before his confirmation.

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