Robert M. Langer

State Antitrust Law and The Constitution

November 6, 2015 Published Work
Bloomberg BNA Antitrust & Trade Regulation Report

In early 1978, I wrote an Op-ed piece for the New York Times describing the 1977 landmark ‘‘Chevymobile'' settlement by forty-four state attorneys general with General Motors in which it was alleged that GM had failed to disclose the substitution of Chevy engines in 1977 Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Pontiacs. In my Op-ed, I had predicted that the Chevymobile matter, in which I participated as a young Connecticut assistant attorney general less than five years out of law school, would spawn a movement toward coordinated multistate enforcement to protect consumers.1

In the 1980's and 90's, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Multistate Antitrust Task Force focused on coordinating the states' collective antitrust enforcement efforts.2 The NAAG Task Force fulfilled my prediction made a decade earlier. It became the institutional third prong in an antitrust triad that included the Federal Trade Commission and the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.3


1 Robert M. Langer, Possible State Aid For Buyers, NEW YORK TIMES (Jan. 30, 1978, p. A21) (‘‘The G.M. settlement signals an era in which effective nationwide non-Federal consumer-protection enforcement by state attorneys general may become commonplace.'').

2 See, e.g., 60 Minutes with Robert M. Langer, Chair, NAAG Multistate Antitrust Task Force, 60 ANTITRUST L.J. 197, 201 (1991) (‘‘The Task Force has already altered, to some extent, the way in which states traditionally function. While states, of course, remain sovereign, this loose confederation of participating states, in effect, cedes a portion of that sovereignty through the Task Force for the benefit of the greater good... Perhaps the Task Force's most noteworthy attribute is the benefit it confers upon those states that are without the resources preor the experience to investigate or litigate certain types of antitrust cases on their own.'').

3 See, e.g., 60 Minutes with Robert M. Langer, Chairman of the National Association of Attorneys General Multistate Antitrust Task Force, 61 ANTITRUST L.J. 211, 212 (1992) (‘‘In the past year the states have achieved significant victories in a wide array of matters, and in so doing have reaffirmed their place as the third prong in the antitrust triad.'').

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