• Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court found that a large holding company was an unlawful combination within the meaning of the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890).

The Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 was of limited success in controlling corporate power during its first decade. After Theodore RooseveltRoosevelt, Theodore became president in 1901, he inaugurated a popular campaign to dissolve some of the largest combinations of the time. One of his major targets was the Northern Securities Company, which held the stocks of three railroads. The company argued that stock ownership was not commerce and therefore not within the scope of the antitrust law.Antitrust lawSherman Antitrust Act;Northern Securities Co. v. United States[Northern Securities Co. v. United States]Antitrust law

By a 5-4 vote, however, the Supreme Court agreed with the government’s case against the company. Writing for the majority, Justice John Marshall HarlanHarlan, John Marshall;Northern Securities Co. v. United States[Northern Securities Co. v. United States] broadly interpreted the law so that it applied to all contracts or combinations that resulted in a restraint of interstate trade. He also insisted that the Court could not be concerned about whether dissolving the company would have an adverse impact on the business community. Justice David J. Brewer, while arguing that the Sherman Act applied only to unreasonable restraints on interstate trade, joined the majority. The four dissenters, in contrast, maintained that the Northern Securities Company did not unreasonably restrain trade and that the commerce clause did not authorize Congress to regulate stock ownership.[case]Northern Securities Co. v. United States[Northern Securities Co. v. United States]

Antitrust law

E. C. Knight Co., United States v.

Sherman Antitrust Act

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