Antitrust Agonistes

27 Pages Posted: 26 Oct 2021 Last revised: 10 Mar 2022

See all articles by William F. Shughart

William F. Shughart

Huntsman School of Business; The Independent Institute

Date Written: October 21, 2021


Classical approaches to the law, even statutory law, teach that its purpose is to codify behavioral rules creating clear expectations about the consequences of human interactions. Stability and predictability are the rule of law’s hallmarks. The present essay explores those principles within the context of the origins and development of antitrust (competition) policy in the United States, with special attention to mergers and acquisitions. The old antitrust question was whether size alone offends the law. The burden of the argument is that the discretion granted to the law enforcement agencies and the courts in identifying and sanctioning impermissible accumulations of economic market power creates climates of uncertainty for the owners of private business enterprises, thereby undermining the rule of law. Moreover, if the laws have not been applied consistently in ordinary economic markets, enforcers can be expected to err even more frequently in responding to undesirable accumulations of political power or social influence in modern digital information markets.

Keywords: Rule of Law, Competition Policy, Sherman Act, Clayton Act, Public Choice

JEL Classification: D4, D7, H1, K21

Suggested Citation

Shughart, William Franklin, Antitrust Agonistes (October 21, 2021). Law & Economics Center at George Mason University Scalia Law School Research Paper Series No. 22-014, Available at SSRN: or

William Franklin Shughart (Contact Author)

Huntsman School of Business ( email )

3565 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-3565
United States

The Independent Institute ( email )

100 Swan Way
Oakland, CA 94621-1428
United States


Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics