The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an expedited appeal of the Microsoft antitrust case, leaving the matter instead to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The decision is widely seen as a procedural victory for Microsoft in the long-running antitrust trial, since the U.S. Court of Appeals has historically ruled in Microsoft’s favor in a variety of prior cases. In the long run, the Supreme Court’s decision may add another year or more to the total length of the antitrust litigation, since the Appeals Court is unlikely to rule until early 2001, at which point the case may still go to the Supreme Court or back to U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson – either way, a final resolution is unlikely until sometime in 2002.
Last April, Judge Jackson found Microsoft had violated U.S. antitrust laws and ordered the company split into separate businesses. Microsoft immediately appealed the decision, and, in June, Judge Jackson requested the Supreme Court hear Microsoft’s appeal directly, bypassing the Appeals Court, on the basis that the case bore directly on a large, rapidly changing sector of the U.S. economy. You can also check out TidBITS’s coverage of antitrust issues regarding Microsoft.