Washington, D.C., partner and Antitrust Practice co-chair Howard Morse testified before the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy of the House Judiciary Committee at a May 19 hearing on legislation to eliminate antitrust exemptions.

Howard, chair of the ABA Antitrust Section’s Exemptions and Immunities Committee, presented the views of the Section in support of H.R. 233, the Railroad Antitrust Enforcement Act of 2009.

The Railroad Antitrust Act would bring railroad mergers within the ambit of Section 7 of the Clayton Act and empower the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission to block acquisitions that lessen competition, as the agencies can in other regulated industries. The Act would also allow private parties to obtain injunctive relief under the antitrust laws.

On behalf of the ABA Antitrust Section, Howard testified that competition, not antitrust exemption, should be the rule in the U.S. economy. He argued that competition has been proven, time and again, to lead to lower prices, better quality and service, and more innovation. For more than a century, the antitrust laws have effectively promoted competition, consumer welfare and efficient markets. He emphasized that the ABA Antitrust Section has opposed antitrust exemptions in industries from baseball to health care to ocean shipping. Howard also added that deregulation of the railroad industry over the last 30 years undercuts the need for an antitrust exemption.