Although only a few years old, the Independent Postal System of America (IPSA) continues to demonstrate the superiority of private enterprise mail delivery. The Oklahoma City firm now provides service from 140 offices in 34 states, serving some 10 million households. This summer IPSA expanded into Michigan (after a court victory over the American Postal Workers Union) and into Connecticut, IPSA's first location on the east coast. New offices are being made ready in Hartford, Boston, and Philadelphia in order to expand the east coast service. IPSA has also gone international, with two offices in Canada, one in London, and offices planned in France, West Germany, Belgium, and Ireland. And IPSA is solidly in the black, expecting to earn $500,000 for 1972 on revenues of $10 million.
IPSA's profits are derived exclusively from second, third, and fourth class mail services—those categories on which the U.S. Postal Service loses $2.5 billion per year. IPSA is still legally prohibited from entering the more profitable first-class mail business. But if IPSA founder and president Thomas Murray has his way, the government monopoly may be on its last legs. According to BUSINESS WEEK, based on recent favorable court rulings, "Murray plans to challenge the Post Office monopoly on first-class mail, and will also contest the ruling that only U.S. postal employees may deposit material in an individual's mailbox."
The idea of private enterprise mail delivery appears to be picking up more support. Jeffrey St. John recently praised the record of private postal service and called for more of it on his CBS Radio "Spectrum" show. And Senator Alan Cranston of California, in criticizing the slowness and high cost of government mail operations, suggested as alternatives either reversion to a fully-subsidized government system or opening the postal business up to competition.
• "The Private Postman Heads East," BUSINESS WEEK, 9 September 1972, p. 40.
• "News," A IS A NEWSLETTER, October 1972, p.3.
In four historic antitrust cases—Alcoa, United Shoe, American Tobacco, and Grinnell—the courts established an apparent principle that the sheer size of a company was grounds for antitrust action, with the burden of proof resting on the accused company to prove it would not use its economic power "wrongfully." Now, however, a federal judge in Phoenix has reversed this principle. In a case brought by Greyhound Computer Corp. against computer pioneer IBM, Judge Walter E. Craig has ruled that "size alone does not constitute an offense under the Sherman Act, nor does the mere possession of monopoly power."
Judge Craig's ruling apparently relied on one similar previous case, the DuPont cellophane case of 1957. In that case, both the lower courts and the Supreme Court ruled that the cellophane market could not be separated from the whole flexible wrappings market. Similarly, IBM contends that its computer business should be viewed as a part of the total information market (which it largely brought into being, to the benefit of hundreds of smaller data processing firms). Loser Greyhound intends "promptly and vigorously to appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals." If the appeals court sustains Judge Craig's ruling, the future of several other pending anti-IBM suits (as well as the nature of antitrust law) could be profoundly affected.
• "Judgement Wrapped in Cellophane," DATAMATION, August 1972, p.65.
SEXUAL FREEDOM PROGRESS
California's odious law forbidding oral copulation was struck down as unconstitutional by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge on 11 September. The case, which involved the makers of pornographic films, is interesting in terms of the legal reasoning involved. Judge George E. Dell first noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized, based on the Ninth Amendment, "a right of marital privacy with which a state may not constitutionally interfere." The Supreme Court has also noted that laws aimed exclusively at single persons violate their rights under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Under the first of these principles, the court found the oral copulation law unconstitutional as applied to husband and wife, and thence, under the equal protection clause, also unconstitutional as applied to single persons. The same reasoning appears applicable to other existing restraints on consensual sex activities.
In Connecticut, meanwhile, a three-judge federal panel overturned the state's four-month old anti-abortion law. The harsh new law had been passed last May after the same three-judge panel had found the state's 1860 abortion law unconstitutional. In an unrelated development, the Gallup Poll reported that 64% of all Americans support "full liberalization" (i.e., repeal) of abortion laws as proposed in the following language: "the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician." The percentage was up sharply from a figure of 57% last January. Interestingly, the survey found that a majority (56%) of Catholics now approve of this position on abortion, despite their church's continued opposition. The same Gallup survey also showed that 73% of all Americans (and 68% of all Catholics) believe that professional birth control information, services, and counseling should be made available to sexually active teenagers.
• "Oral Copulation Law Ruled Unconstitutional," LOS ANGELES TIMES, 12 September 1972.
• "Connecticut Law on Abortions Overruled," UPI (Hartford, 21 September 1972 1972.
• "Abortion, Birth Control Reforms Backed in Poll," LOS ANGELES TIMES, 25 August 1972.