The Justice Department is staying out of the latest round of Microsoft appeals, meaning the Solicitor General won't file any briefs in the D.C. Circuit appeal brought by Massachusetts and West Virginia seeking greater sanctions against Microsoft. It's a fairly cowardly act by the federal government, leaving Microsoft to fend for itself in defense of an antitrust settlement the Justice Department is charged with enforcing. I suspect the Justice Department—and by extension, the White House—is implicitly bowing to political criticism from members of Congress, including key Republicans, who felt the Antitrust Division went too easy on Microsoft in the settlement.
In other news, this morning the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in a civil antitrust lawsuit brought against the United States Postal Service. The Ninth Circuit previously held the Post Office could stand trial for antitrust claims, because the agency was not covered by the sovereign immunity granted to government agencies. Solicitor General Ted Olson is arguing the case for the USPS, which the justices will hear next fall. I'll have more to say on this case later after I have a chance to review the file.
Finally, my colleague Arthur Silber takes on William Safire and Glenn Reynolds, who've both recently argued in favor of government control of private media companies. Arthur demolishes the intellectual argument against "Big Media" and also discusses my recent advocacy in the federal antitrust "settlement" with Village Voice Media and New Times Media.