New development in NC Board Of Dental Examiners vs. FTC

Back in late January, I put up a post (HERE) on the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust suit against the NC Board of Dental Examiners, in which I mused that the case might end up in SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Well, it has.  But, although SCOTUS has accepted the case, it will not be heard until the next term.  However, two groups have already filed briefs with the court in support of the FTC’s side of the argument.  Here’s an excerpt that encapsulates the essence of the argument put forth by the FTC:

The central legal question in this case is whether the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners – which consists almost entirely of licensed dentists selected by other licensed dentists – should be entitled to the benefit of state-action immunity against federal antitrust laws.  Amici contend that the answer to that question must turn not only on legal principles, but also on the best available social-science evidence regarding the way that occupational-licensing boards like North Carolina’s operate in the real world.  As this brief will explain, in the real world, occupational-licensing boards routinely use government power to promote the private financial interests of their own members and licensees, rather than to promote any legitimate government interests.  The evidence for this conclusion is supplied by a branch of economics known as “public choice economics.”  Public choice economics is the application of economic theory to study the causes and effects of government actions.  Public choice economics has been widely and successfully used to explain and predict the forces that lead to the enactment of occupational-licensing laws and the behavior of occupational-licensing boards.  A central finding of this research is that when self-interested economic actors – such as licensed dentists – are given the power to influence or, as in this case, actually write the rules by which others will compete with them, they behave as self-interested private actors, rather than as stewards of the public interest.

For those who may wish to delve further into the arguments presented in these briefs, click HERE for the brief filed by the Institute of Justice, and HERE for the one filed by the Antitrust Scholars group.

And in a related bit, there is hair-braiding, which in NC and many other states, also requires occupational licensing.  Click HERE for an example from Mississippi.