Dentists seek to shut down competition from lowcost teethwhitening services

first_imgWASHINGTON — Teeth-bleaching isn’t brain surgery, although the Supreme Court seemed to find a link between the two in an antitrust case argued Tuesday. Among the questions before the justices is whether it is unfair under federal law for a state regulatory board made up mostly of dentists to prevent lower-cost competitors who aren’t dentists from offering teeth-whitening services.On Tuesday, several justices worried aloud about discouraging people from serving on these state boards by opening their decisions to second-guessing by the courts. Justice Stephen Breyer was among those who wanted to be sure that, whatever the court decides, it does not take away authority from the people who know best.He invoked a fictitious board of neurosurgeons to make his point. “We would like this group of brain surgeons to decide who can practice brain surgery in this state. I don’t want a group of bureaucrats deciding that,” Breyer said.The court has long accepted that the some actions that otherwise would raise antitrust concerns are allowable if they are done by states. The court is wrestling with whether the dental board is acting mainly in the interests of dentists or the public, which would protect its decisions from complaints about unfair competition.last_img

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