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Washington, D.C., February 21, 2002 — In a letter to the head of the Bush administration’s antitrust division this week, the Competitive Enterprise Institute questioned the Department of Justice’s handling of public comments on the proposed settlement of the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Of 30,000 comments filed, 2,900 “contain a degree of detailed substance,” according to the Antitrust Division. Of these, the Division picked only 47 “major” comments for special indexing and summarization, which are overwhelmingly against the settlement. The rest, including CEI’s, have been relegated to a “don’t bother” pile, wrote James V. DeLong, a senior fellow in CEI’s Project on Technology & Innovation, in his letter to antitrust head Charles A. James.
The 47 comments chosen by the antitrust division staff “seem to consist largely of legal minutiae combined with webs of jargon spun by hired-gun economists,” said DeLong, who objects to a “grandiose antitrust industry” that is converting antitrust into industrial policy.
“Narrowing down the comments is necessary, but for DOJ staff to perform the selection without outside input creates a concern about bias – not against a party, but against the predictability, speed, and clarity in antitrust policy needed by the business community,” added DeLong.
CEI’s initial comments emphasized: (1) Publicity and propaganda are turning the proceeding into “an antitrust O. J. Simpson affair” and doing great damage to the legal system. (2) The bounds of a legally acceptable decree are tightly confined by the appellate decision, as James himself noted in testimony before the Senate; (3) The initial findings of fact are “a thorough mess”, and rejecting the settlement will plunge the trial judge into an “impenetrable morass.”
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James V. DeLongSenior Fellow, Project on Technology & Innovation202-331-1010, ext. email@example.com  Recently featured in: USA Today, National Review Online, New Technology Week, and Reason, among many other publications.
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