[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled Wednesday in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission [opinion, PDF] that because the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners [official website] consists mostly of active market participants in the occupation the board regulates, it could only invoke immunity to antitrust action if it was actively supervised by the state. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website] filed an administrative action [complaint, PDF] against the board in June 2010, alleging that the board stifled competition in violation of antitrust laws by working to bar non-dentists from providing teeth whitening services. A unanimous commission ruled [opinion, PDF] in December 2011 that the board had violated Section 5 of the FTC Act [text], a decision upheld upon review [opinion, PDF] by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit [official website]. The Supreme Court ruled that because the state did not actively supervise the board, it was not immune from antitrust action [JURIST backgrounder], and upheld the FTC’s ruling.
The case was argued [JURIST report] before the Supreme Court in October. The court granted certiorari [JURIST report] last March.