This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Supremes Won't Hear Microsoft Case
Sep 26 2000 12:00 AM PDT

The Persons in Black rule, 8-1: The MS antitrust case goes back to the lower court that overturned a ruling against the company. Legal handicappers are stymied.

Today was the last opportunity before the next legislative session for the Supreme Court to say what it would or would not do about the Microsoft (MSFT) antitrust case. The word came down at 10 a.m. EDT: by an 8-to-1 vote, the Supremes decided not to review the case. The case will go instead to the lower court that overturned an earlier anti-Microsoft ruling. By Grok's deadline this morning a number of outlets had posted bulletins, many of them based on wire copy.

Several outlets with earlier deadlines had assigned reporters to cover the here-we-go-again news of the hidden deliberations of the Persons in Black. Everyone rehashed the by-now familiar facts in the appeal process: the Justice Department wanted a quick Supreme Court opinion and Microsoft pushed for review by the (presumably more favorable) lower court.

In handicapping the odds, reporters talked to some of the same law professors but reached opposite conclusions. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer interviewed George Washington University professor Bill Kovacic and interpreted what he said as good news for Microsoft: "Several experts, including Kovacic, have said that the longer it takes the high court to announce its decision, the better Microsoft's odds." CNET's reporter quoted the same Bill Kovacic directly: "The longer they take - let's say this spills beyond next Monday - that's suggestive they are going to take the case," as the DOJ wanted.

TechWeb's reporter stayed closer to the tree trunk, quoting Howard University professor Andrew Gavil's noncommittal "It's very hard to guess on how justices will rule." Too right: no one guessed 8 to 1. - Keith Dawson

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