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Advocacy News

Supreme Court: Dental Boards’ Actions Not Exempted from Antitrust Laws

February 26, 2015

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled that actions by a professional board made up primarily of market participants are not protected by the state action exemption to the antitrust laws and may, without appropriate active supervision by the state, constitute violations of the law. The case is likely to have significant implications for all professional boards, including dental boards, across the country. (Download a PDF of the decision)

The case was the result of a challenge by the Federal Trade Commission to the efforts of the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners to preclude non-dentists from engaging in teeth whitening services.  The Board had issued cease and desist orders against the non-dentist practitioners.

Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 6-3 opinion for the court, affirming the decision of the Fourth Circuit Court, with associate justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Sam Alito dissenting.

The ADA and other health care professional groups submitted amicus curiae briefs (PDF) in support of the dental board’s position. The ADA is conferring with other professional associations and determining how best to advise health care professionals and professional boards how best to act in light of the decision.