Manufacturing Politics (A): Baby Bells & the Modified Final Judgment

By Keith Krehbiel
1994 | Case No. P3A

In 1983, a lengthy and extremely complex antitrust suit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against AT&T was finally settled through a consent decree, or so it seemed. A significant portion of the former and formidable monopoly AT&T was to be broken up into seven Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs) that also came to be known as Baby Bells. The decree prohibited the RBOCs from engaging in three lines of business without the approval of the Federal District Court judge who oversaw the decree. Throughout the 1980s the Baby Bells adapted to, but were often frustrated by, all three of the court-imposed restrictions. The restrictions elicited a mix of administrative, court, and legislative strategies that eventually drew the Baby Bells into the judicial and legislative arenas.

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