Recent comments from the Bush administrations new pick as head of the Justice Department’s antitrust unit are the first sign that the new White House administration could be going in a different direction with the proposed breakup of software giant
The Bush Administration on Thursday nominated Charles James as assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. James served as acting head for several months in 1992 during the administration of former President George Bush and would become the first African American to head the antitrust division on a permanent basis.
“The one thing that is very clear is that consumers have benefited by there being a common platform,” James said in an interview with CNBC last April. “If Microsoft were to be broken up, you would see divergence of the common platform and it’s unclear that you would have as vigorous a competitive market.”
James also said he believes instead of a breakup of Microsoft into two, changes in Microsoft’s business practices would be a better solution.
Microsoft is seeking to overturn trial court findings that it broke antitrust law and should be split in two to prevent future violations. A U.S. appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments on Feb. 26 and 27. Seven appeals judges will hear some seven hours of arguments over two days on Microsoft’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that the software giant should be separated into two entities.
The court will hear arguments on Microsoft’s contention that U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who heard the original trial that lead to the breakup decision, showed bias against the company. After the trial, Jackson made comments about Microsoft and its chairman Bill Gates that the company says shows he was not balanced in his approach to the issues of the antitrust trial.