The Anti-Chain Store Movement, Localist Ideology, and the Remnants of the Progressive Constitution, 1920-1940

84 Pages Posted: 29 Jun 2005  

Richard Schragger

University of Virginia School of Law

Abstract

The rapid expansion of chain stores during the 1920s and 30s, especially the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company (A&P), excited significant popular opposition. Chain store opponents, including Justice Louis Brandeis, argued that the chains were undermining the small, independent retailer and destroying America's small towns, and that the concentration of economic capital in large corporate entities threatened democratic citizenship. These localist and decentralist arguments were taken seriously by state legislatures, many of which adopted anti-chain store tax laws, and by Congress, which adopted amendments to the federal antitrust laws. This Article revives these arguments in order to describe a progressive, localist constitutionalism that has been lost since the late New Deal. The Article also uses the legal history of the anti-chain store movement to gain perspective on current debates about globalization and the anti-big-box store movements of today.

Keywords: chain stores, Brandeis, anti-trust, Lochner, Progressivism, Constitution, legal history, Great Depression, localism, Wal-Mart, anti-chain store movement, New Deal, monopoly, Curse of Bigness, consumers, producers

JEL Classification: N00, N40, N42, L40

Suggested Citation

Schragger, Richard, The Anti-Chain Store Movement, Localist Ideology, and the Remnants of the Progressive Constitution, 1920-1940. Iowa Law Review, Vol. 90, p. 1011, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=749084

Richard Schragger (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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