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California Motor Transport Co. v. Trucking Unlimited

Supreme Court of the United States

November 10, 1971, Argued ; January 13, 1972, Decided

No. 70-92

Opinion

 [*509]   [***645]   [**611]  Opinion of the Court by MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, announced by MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER.

This is a civil suit under § 4 of the Clayton Act, 38 Stat. 731, 15 U. S. C. § 15, for injunctive relief and damages instituted by respondents, who are highway carriers operating in California, against petitioners, who are also highway carriers operating within, into, and from California. Respondents and petitioners are, in other words, competitors. The charge is that the petitioners conspired to monopolize trade and commerce in the transportation of goods in violation of the antitrust laws. The conspiracy alleged is a concerted action by petitioners to institute state and federal proceedings to resist and defeat applications by respondents to acquire operating rights or to transfer or register those rights. These activities, it is alleged, extend to rehearings and to reviews or appeals from agency or court decisions on these matters.

The District Court dismissed [****4]  the  [***646]  complaint for failure to state a cause of action, 1967 Trade Cas. para. 72,298. The Court of Appeals reversed, 432 F.2d 755. The case is here on a petition for a writ of certiorari, which we granted. 402 U.S. 1008.

The present case is akin to Eastern Railroad Conference v. Noerr Motor Freight, 365 U.S. 127, where a group of trucking companies sued a group of railroads to restrain them from an alleged conspiracy to monopolize  [*510]  the long-distance freight business in violation of the antitrust laws and to obtain damages. We held that no cause of action was alleged insofar as it was predicated upon mere attempts to influence the Legislative Branch for the passage of laws or the Executive Branch for their enforcement. We rested our decision on two grounds:

(1) "In a representative democracy such as this, these branches of government act on behalf of the people and, to a very large extent, the whole concept of representation depends upon the ability of the people to make their wishes known to their representatives. To hold that the government retains the power to act in this representative [****5]  capacity and yet hold, at the same time, that the people cannot freely inform the government of their wishes would impute to the Sherman Act a purpose to regulate, not business activity, but political activity, a purpose which would have no basis whatever in the legislative history of that Act." Id., at 137.

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404 U.S. 508 *; 92 S. Ct. 609 **; 30 L. Ed. 2d 642 ***; 1972 U.S. LEXIS 157 ****; 1972 Trade Cas. (CCH) P73,795

CALIFORNIA MOTOR TRANSPORT CO. ET AL. v. TRUCKING UNLIMITED ET AL.

Prior History:  [****1]  CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT.

Disposition:  432 F.2d 755, affirmed and remanded for trial.

CORE TERMS

courts, anti trust law, competitors, agencies, First Amendment, rights, immunity, conspiracy, processes, right of petition, allegations, Railroad, press, highway carrier, Sherman Act, Freight

Constitutional Law, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Freedoms, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Speech, Scope, Antitrust & Trade Law, Sherman Act, General Overview, Intellectual Property, Bad Faith, Fraud & Nonuse, Fraud, Political Speech, Business & Corporate Compliance, Defenses, Inequitable Conduct, Anticompetitive Conduct, Regulated Practices, Free Press, Transportation Law, Interstate Commerce, Restraints of Trade