Seventh Circuit Review


The Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act (FTAIA) excludes anticompetitive conduct occurring in purely foreign commerce from the reach of U.S. antitrust laws. However, the act permits the application of U.S. antitrust laws to both import commerce and foreign commerce that has a “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable” effect on U.S. commerce. Controversy over the act centers on whether the act proscribes a federal court's subject-matter jurisdiction. In his 1993 dissent in Hartford v. California, Justice Scalia argued that the act does not affect a court's adjudicative authority. However, ten years later the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held the opposite in United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chemical Company. In 2012, in Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium Inc., the Seventh Circuit reversed its prior opinion, holding that the FTAIA does not confer subject-matter jurisdiction.

This Case Note chronicles the arc between Justice Scalia's dissent in Hartford to the Seventh Circuit's 2012 unanimous en banc decision in Minn-Chem. The accumulation of decisions leading to Minn-Chem has far-reaching consequences for civil procedure, statutory interpretation, and the extraterritorial application of U.S. laws. This Note argues that the Seventh Circuit made the right call in Minn-Chem. It also argues, in light of recent Supreme Court decisions in Morrison v. National Australia Bank and Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, that the canon of statutory interpretation establishing the presumption that acts of Congress do not apply extraterritorially should not apply to U.S. antitrust laws.

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TheFTAIAInItsProperPlace.mp3 (17329 kB)
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