The scope of state professional licensing was effectively on trial October 14, when U.S. Supreme Court justices listened to lawyers from the Federal Trade Commission and the North Carolina dental board on the issue of whether the board’s restrictions on teeth whitening are anticompetitive and illegal under federal antitrust law.
The justices quizzed both sides on their arguments in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. FTC. Expressing a common concern of several justices, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. commented on how difficult it would be to rule against the dental board without jeopardizing the legitimacy of the preexisting regulations in other fields, stating, “It seems to lead to a case-by-case, state-by-state, board-by-board inquiry by the federal courts as to whether the members of a regulatory body are really serving the public interest or whether they have been captured by some special interest.”
A decision in the case is expected in the spring.
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