Supreme Court to Review Microsoft Appeal Friday

The US Supreme Court will meet this Friday and begin discussing the Microsoft antitrust case for the first time. Two months ago, Microsoft petitioned the high court to hear its appeal, an action that would see its legal battle move out of the US District Court for the District of Columbia if accepted. Nine of the Supreme Court justices will review a number of cases Friday, including Microsoft's, and a decision is expected fairly quickly. If the justices do vote on Microsoft's fate Friday, the earliest possible notification of their decision would occur Monday.

But most legal analysts say that they expect the Supreme Court to reject the appeal, which would keep the current remedy phase moving forward in the lower court. It's unusual for the Supreme Court to take on a case that is still in progress. Microsoft issued the appeal because it believes that Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, who oversaw the original antitrust case, exhibited bias against the company and should therefore have his entire decision against Microsoft thrown out. Instead, the US Court of Appeals ruled that Jackson's decision was correct, but that his remedy--to break up Microsoft into two separate companies--should be reviewed, because the judge didn't provide Microsoft with hearings before issuing his remedy.

Further complicating the appeal is the fact that the Appellate Court's decision was unanimous: All of the justices believe that Microsoft is an illegal monopoly that abused its power, and it's unlikely that the Supreme Court would step in unless there had been some sort of question about this fact. And Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who has taken over the remedy phase of case, has issued stern warnings about ending the case quickly, a proactive move that's bound to sit well with the high court.

Should the Supreme Court decide to hear Microsoft's appeal, however, the company may not be done with lower courts. If the Supreme Court ultimately rules against Microsoft, the company would simply be pushed back into Kollar-Kotelly's hands once again.

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