Why were few court cases won against monopolies and trusts during the gilded age? Monopolies and trusts were strengthened by the sherman act. Monopolies and trusts were supported by the public. Monopolies and trusts were supported by state legislators. Monopolies and trusts were supported by the federal courts.
Monopolies and trusts were supported by the federal courts.
Gilded Age and Unfair Business Competition
Gilded Age refers to years in the late 19th century, 1870s – 1900. This was the time when the industrial revolution was beginning in America. It was an exciting age for companies and the government at large.
This was a time of economic growth for America, and monopolies and trusts were at the center of industrial revolution. These large corporations were dominant in almost every sector. They had too much power to control the demand and supply of products or services in different sectors.
Due to these corporations’ substantial power during the Gilded Age, they often misused their powers. Power misuse was evident through these monopolies and trusts’ unethical practices. The law tried to protect other minor players in business against unfair competition and unethical business practices by monopolies and trusts at the time.
During this time, there was open bias by the federal government. The biasness was in favor of big corporations and monopolies. This somehow made these big corporations and monopolies immune to antitrust lawsuits.
Most court cases filed against monopolies were lost because the federal courts were biased and supported trusts and monopolies. The federal court supported these monopolies and trusts for the prevailing factors that enabled this biased legal environment.
Reasons Why Federal Courts Supported Monopolies
1. The infancy of agencies to enforce the law
This was a time when agencies like the Department of Justice were being born. They never had significant power to enforce laws against existing corporations and monopolies back in the day. They often never had much monetary resources like the giant corporations there were dealing with.
Without money and power, it was hard to juggle around legal complexities of lawsuits involving monopolies and trusts. Those with money compromised lawsuits and ended up winning in most cases.
2. Legal loopholes
There were many loopholes that monopolies and trusts exploited during the Gilded Age to win a court case. Since they had money, they had access to the best lawyers. Accessing these elite lawyers was close to impossible for complainants with little money.
Since they could not afford these elite lawyers, they did not know how to exploit the law to their advantage. The elite lawyers always exploited legal loopholes and won cases for their clients (i.e. monopolies and trusts). They were never worried about being sued, provided they had access to these top-tier lawyers.
Regulators also struggled to prosecute cases due to the collusion between monopolies and the federal courts.
3. Improper interpretation of the Sherman Antitrust Act
In 1890, the Sherman Antitrust Act was born. This act was intended to discourage the formation of monopolies. The intent to discourage monopolies establishment was anchored on the elimination of unfair competition in the market.
However, the act was often misinterpreted in cases against monopolies. Where there were court cases against monopolies, there was some sort of reluctance to apply this act fully. This was due to the initial vague language of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
Applying the context of the Act did not assure proper interpretations either. There were cases where courts interpreted the act differently, limiting how effective the Act was against powerful corporations and monopolies that existed at the time.
The Sherman Act cannot be attributed to supporting monopolies in their unethical business practices. Instead, the act brought some sort of confusion on what was ethical and unethical business practices by monopolies and trust. Big corporations thrived on this confusion emanating from the Sherman Antitrust Act.
4. The attitude of judges toward businesses
The Gilded Age was full of pro-business judges. During this age, leisure’s fare perspective dominated courts on how they viewed businesses. Judges felt the best way to build an economy was to leave business alone and unregulated.
Lawsuits against unfair competitive practices by these big corporations were perceived as interruptions to the economy. To minimize the adverse effects of interrupting with business operations of monopolies, courts favor them in most rulings.
This was where the lawlessness of monopolies was breeding. Since they knew judges and courts were advocating for little or no control of their business operations, the outcomes of cases against corporations and monopolies was to some extent predictable.