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Chicago Board of Trade v. United States, 246 U.S. 231 (1918)

Chicago Board of Trade v. United States

No. 98

Argued December 18, 19, 1917

Decided March 4, 1918

246 U.S. 231


The "Call" rule of the Board of Trade of Chicago, prohibiting members of the Board from purchasing or offering to purchase, during the period between the session of the Board termed the "Call" and the opening of the regular session of the next business day, grain "to arrive," at a price other than the closing bid at the "Call," does not violate the Anti-Trust Law.

A rule or agreement by which men occupying strong positions in a branch of trade fix prices at which they will buy or sell during an important part of the business day is not necessarily an illegal restraint of trade under the Anti-Trust Law.

Every agreement concerning or regulating trade restrains, and the true test of legality is whether the restraint is such as merely regulates, and perhaps thereby promotes, competition, or whether it is such as may suppress or even destroy competition.

To determine this question, the court must ordinarily consider the facts peculiar to the business, its condition before and after the restraint was imposed, the nature of the restraint, and its effect, actual or probable.

The history of the restraint, the evil believed to exist, the reason for adopting the particular remedy, the purpose or end sought to be attained, are all relevant facts, not because a good intention will save an otherwise objectionable regulation or the reverse, but because knowledge of intent may help the court to interpret facts and predict consequences.

It was therefore error for the District Court to strike from the answer in this case allegations concerning the history and purpose of the "Call" rule and to exclude evidence on that subject.

The rule of the Board of Trade here involved, by nature, is a restriction merely upon the period of price-making; in scope, it applies during a small part only of the business day, to a small part only of the grain shipped from day to day to Chicago, to an even smaller part of the day's sales, and not at all to grain shipped to any of numerous other

Page 246 U. S. 232

available markets; it has had no appreciable effect upon general market prices, nor has it materially affected the total volume of grain coming to Chicago, but, within the narrow limits of its operation, it has helped to improve market conditions in a number of ways.


The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 246 U. S. 235

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