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26 Mercer L. Rev. 651 (1974-1975)
The Emergence of the Federal Trade Commission as a Formidable Consumer Protection Agency

handle is hein.journals/mercer26 and id is 653 raw text is: THE EMERGENCE OF THE FEDERAL TRADE
COMMISSION AS A FORMIDABLE CONSUMER
PROTECTION AGENCY*
By EARL W. KINTNER**
and
CHRISTOPHER SMITH***
Discussing the recently enacted Magnuson-Moss Warranty-FTC Im-
provement Act, Senator Magnuson sounded this clarion:
No longer will the Federal Trade Commission be confined to slapping the
wrists of persons who engage in unfair or deceptive practices and telling
them not to do it again. The bill authorizes the Federal Trade Commission
to not only bring a halt to unfair or deceptive acts or practices but also to
go into court and ask a judge to order consumer redress for those people
who have been injured by such acts or practices.'
When the Federal Trade Commission Act was originally passed in 1914,1
the statute was aimed at protecting fair competition, not ameliorating the
plight of the consumer in the increasingly sophisticated marketplace. The
consuming public benefited from the actions of the Federal Trade Com-
mission (hereinafter sometimes referred to as the Commission) because
in the long run the consumer benefited from honest competition, but the
Commission's mandate was not consumer protection. In fact, the Supreme
Court held in FTC v. Raladam Co.3 that the Commission lacked jurisdic-
tion to proceed against false advertising without proof that the advertise-
ment adversely affected competitors, even though the advertisement ad-
mittedly deceived the public.
Momentum developed to overturn the Raladam decision through the
legislative process. The FTC Act amendments that emerged from the con-
gressional gauntlet in 1938, which are commonly known as the Wheeler-
Lea Amendments,' expanded the Commission's mandate to protect the
*This article is based in part upon research that will appear in several chapters of The
Federal Antitrust Laws under the editorship of Earl W. Kintner, as part of a series entitled
Statutory History of the United States, to be published in 1975 by Chelsea House, New York,
New York.
**Partner in Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn, Washington, D.C. DePauw University
(A.B., 1936); Indiana University (J.D., 1938). Member of the District of Columbia and Indi-
ana Bars. Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (1959-61).
***Associate of Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn, Washington, D.C. Wabash College
(A.B., 1969); University of Kansas (J.D., 1972). Member of the District of Columbia and
Kansas Bars.
1. 120 CONG. REc. 21,977 (daily ed. Dec. 18, 1974).
2. Act of Sept. 26, 1914, ch. 311, 38 Stat. 717, 15 U.S.C. §§41-46, 47-58 (1970).
3. 283 U.S. 643 (1931).
4. Act of March 21, 1938, ch. 49, 52 Stat. 111, 15 U.S.C. §§41, 44, 45, 52-58 (1970).
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