THE MAGNA CARTA AND THE SHERMAN ACT
By David G. Meyer1
This year marks the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. Recent books and articles discussing the history of the influential document are ubiquitous.2 Those histories typically explore the ways in which the agreement between King John and his nobles in 1215 influenced America’s founders and contributed to the development of American Constitutional law. A frequent theme is that the idea of the Magna Cartaâespecially its perceived status as the seminal document establishing the concept of freedom under the rule of lawâhas been as influential as the actual content of the document (which primarily addressed a list of feudal rights and obligations).3
In light of its special place in our understanding of legal history, it is no surprise that the Supreme Court has referred to the Magna Carta in more than 200 opinions. As one might expect, many of these references occurred in the context of discussing the origin of fundamental Constitutional rights such as due process.4 However, it is perhaps a surprise that the Supreme Court has also regularly invoked the Magna Carta in deciding antitrust cases.
A Curious Analogy