The New Private-Regulation Skepticism: Due Process, Non-Delegation, and Antitrust Challenges

77 Pages Posted: 6 Oct 2013 Last revised: 25 Jun 2014

Date Written: June 1, 2014


In recent years, state and federal courts have been ruling against private regulatory organizations on a number of theories. This Article explores this new private-regulation skepticism and the theories that underpin it.

This Article focuses on three main sources of law: the Due Process Clause, non-delegation doctrine, and antitrust law. To illustrate the doctrines, it follows five examples from recent cases and recent news of regulation by Amtrak, the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners, the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, the Texas Boll Weevil Eradication Foundation, and landowners in Texas water quality protection zones.

The Due Process Clause is a potential limit on the private exercise of regulatory power, especially if the regulators and the regulated parties compete with each other. Federal non-delegation doctrine, by contrast, is unlikely to be much help in these challenges, though some states, like Texas, have vibrant non-delegation doctrines that not only are stricter than the federal one but also strongly distinguish between public and private delegates. Some courts don’t clearly distinguish between non-delegation and due process. I argue that they should, as the two doctrines serve very different purposes.

Finally, federal antitrust law is available to guard against the anticompetitive dangers of “industry regulating itself.” Excessive conflicts of interest decrease the chance that a court will find state action immunity from antitrust law, and increase the chance that a court will find a substantive antitrust violation because of structural anticompetitive factors. Additionally, regulators that are sufficiently independent from state government are less likely to be insulated from liability by sovereign immunity. This new regulation skepticism thus provides several useful tools to challenge private regulation.

Keywords: delegation, nondelegation, due process, private regulation, antitrust

Suggested Citation

Volokh, Alexander (Sasha), The New Private-Regulation Skepticism: Due Process, Non-Delegation, and Antitrust Challenges (June 1, 2014). Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-262, Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, Vol. 37, No. 3, 2014, Available at SSRN: or

Alexander (Sasha) Volokh (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

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