In Verizon Communications, Inc. v. Law Offices of Curtis V. Trinko (540 U.S. 398 2004), the Supreme Court denied the antitrust claim advanced by a consumer of telecommunications services against a local exchange carrier that had previously been subject to regulatory discipline by both the Federal Communications Commission and the New York Public Service Commission. According to the Court, the fact that Verizon had been found to have breached its duty under the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to adequately share its network with telecommunications companies -- including AT&T, which provided service to Trinko -- wishing to provide competitive local exchange services did not provide sufficient basis for finding a violation of the antitrust laws.
Although Congress included "an antitrust-specific savings clause" to emphasize that neither
the act nor any amendment to it should "be construed to modify, impair, or supersede the
applicability of any of the antitrust laws," "the act does not create new claims that go beyond existing
antitrust standards." The three Justices who concurred separately in the judgment would not even
have reached the merits of the case, finding instead that Trinko's derivative injury did not afford him
the "first step," standing to bring the case. The decision was received unfavorably by both the
chairman and ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, who introduced
legislation in the 108th Congress to remedy the antitrust defect noted by the Court; and with approval
by the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. This report will be updated to
reflect further, significant congressional action.