believes that if Overlap ends, the member schools will take "one step back toward the economic segregation of higher education." Can the Ivy Overlap Group members' purposes be so fragile that their primary goal of having the most desirable students outweighs their ability, without Overlap, to pursue diligently even an imperfect policy of promoting the virtue of student diversity and the advantages of making available to needy students the benefits of these elite educational institutions? Will there also be lost the value to be gained by signaling to all prospective students that they can in fact aspire to attend an Ivy Overlap Group institution even though their families may be of limited means? The court thinks not. If MIT and the other Ivy League schools were to so easily abandon these objectives merely because Overlap was not in play, then the court could only conclude that their professed dedication to these ends was less than sincere.
By the same token, if these policies are as meaningful as MIT avows, and these institutions refuse in any way to forsake admitting the "best of the best," then they should be willing to dedicate the necessary resources to ensure the continuation of these policies. It is certainly true that these decisions, like nearly every important decision these schools must make, will be difficult and will have a financial impact in other areas of the schools' operations. The end of Overlap will only portend the end of need-blind admissions and schools' ability to guarantee the full need of their aid applicants if the schools decide that other financial priorities occupy a higher investment and financial plane. The dilemma over resource allocation always triggers budgetary balancing, and that is likely to be called for here. Such balancing is not new, nor is it unreasonable, if the suggested method of avoiding it is to act contrary to the law. Lastly, MIT urges the court to assess the Ivy Overlap Group against the background of our national education policy, the cornerstone of which, for several decades, has been the advancement of equality of educational access and opportunity. The allure of approaching this case in such a posture is evident.
The court, is obligated, however, to judge Overlap against a different framework: that of the Sherman Act, which, though not as old as MIT, has nevertheless for more than a century guided our Nation's economic policies. MIT insists that Overlap must be sustained because "leaving educational opportunity to the vagaries of the commercial marketplace would hurt society and be unfair to individuals." MIT's Post-Trial Memorandum at 2. Congress, in passing the Sherman Act, made a very different value judgment, that far from hurting society and the individual, an unrestrained and unencumbered marketplace is their best protector:
The Sherman Act was designed to be a comprehensive charter of economic liberty aimed at preserving free and unfettered competition as the rule of trade. It rests on the premise that the unrestrained interaction of competitive forces will yield the best allocation of our economic resources, the lowest prices, the highest quality and the greatest material progress, while at the same time providing an environment conducive to the preservation of our democratic political and social institutions.
Northern Pacific Ry Co. v. United States, 356 U.S. 1, 4, 78 S. Ct. 514, 517, 2 L. Ed. 2d 545 (1958). Congress is certainly free to decide that our national education policy could be better served by Overlap than by the operation of an unfettered marketplace. Until Congress declares otherwise, however, the court has no choice but to respect 102 years of our nation's antitrust policy.
An appropriate Order will follow.
AND NOW, TO WIT, this Second day of September, 1992, IT IS ORDERED that Judgment is entered in favor of the United States and against Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Except for the provisions of § 1544 of Public L. No. 102-325, 106 Stat. 448, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and its agents, employees, and representatives, are enjoined from entering into, being a party to, maintaining or participating in--directly or indirectly, on a case-by-case-basis or otherwise--any combination or conspiracy which has the effect, or the tendency to affect, the determination of the price, or any adjustment thereof, expected to be paid by, or on behalf of, a prospective student, whether identified as tuition, family contribution, financial aid awards, or some other component of the cost of providing the student's education by the institutions to which the student has been admitted.
LOUIS C. BECHTLE, CH. J.