Supreme Court: Dental Boards Not Immune from Antitrust Law

Posted by Adam Freed on Monday, March 2, 2015

A decision from the United States Supreme Court issued this week could have far-reaching consequences on state regulation of professionals, including dentists.  In North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission, the Court upheld the FTC’s determination that the North Carolina Dental Board violated the Sherman Antitrust Act when it took action to prohibit non-dentists from providing teeth whitening services.  Specifically, the Court held that since a majority of the members of the North Carolina Dental Board were active market participants (licensed dentists), the Board is not eligible for immunity from the Sherman Act unless the Board is subject to active state supervision.  The Court concluded that the North Carolina Dental Board was not subject to such supervision.  The full text of the Court’s ruling is available at http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-534_19m2.pdf