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Breaking News

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Microsoft Antitrust Case

Aired September 26, 2000 - 10:18 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: As we reported earlier, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a massive antitrust case against Microsoft that threatens the breakup of the computer software giant into two parts. The justices say the case first should be heard by a federal appeals court, and for more on that, we turn to CNN's senior Washington correspondent Charles Bierbauer outside the Supreme Court.

Hi, Charles.

CHARLES BIERBAUER, CNN SR. WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

Well, this is what Microsoft wanted. They wanted this case to be heard again by the circuit court of appeals before it came to the Supreme Court. The Justice Department, which is urging the breakup of Microsoft, felt that that was just stalling what the Justice Department would like to see. But the justices have been known to feel that a second opinion, another set of eyes looking at this case after it was looked at by Judge Penfield Jackson, who ordered the breakup, would be beneficial to their ultimate decision.

And while they have denied it today, it's almost certain that this case will work its way back to the Supreme Court, not this year, probably next. Justice Stephen Breyer did file a written dissent saying that the urgency of the matter was such that this court was competent and certainly had the jurisdiction to hear it now, but the justices will take a little bit longer.

Also, one other note, Chief Justice William Rehnquist issued a statement noting that his son works for one of the law firms representing Microsoft. The chief justice said he considered long as to whether he should recuse himself from this case, but felt that the absence of one vote, any vote, from the Supreme Court when the case eventually gets here would be more detrimental than having him on the bench when it's heard.

It goes, now, back to the U.S. district -- circuit court of appeals for the District of Columbia, where it will be scheduled at some point in the coming months. The court has indicated they will hear it quickly.

Charles Bierbauer, CNN. live, from the Supreme Court.

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