In a time of well-documented skepticism in the federal courts about the administrative state, the FTC has doubled down, seeking public comment on a rule that would ban enforcement of noncompetition agreements.

As part of the explanation for its authority, the FTC cited authority that “Section 5 reaches conduct that, while not prohibited by the Sherman or Clayton Acts, violates the spirit or policies underlying those statutes.” That broad language will sound familiar to readers of the vaccine-mandate cases and their discussions of the EEOC’s rulemaking authority.

Given the present climate in the courts about expansive claims of agency authority, it seems likely that any FTC rule in this area will lead to extensive litigation before such a rule actually takes effect.

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