[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] announced Monday that it is reversing Bush administration antitrust policies [press release] that made it difficult to act against large companies that harm the interests of smaller companies. In a speech [materials] before the Center for American Progress [advocacy website], Assistant Attorney General in the Antitrust Division [official website] Christine Varney said that the DOJ is withdrawing a September report [PDF text; DOJ materials] entitled "Competition and Monopoly: Single-Firm Conduct Under Section 2 of the Sherman Act," because it "raised too many hurdles to government antitrust enforcement and favored extreme caution and the development of safe harbors for certain conduct within reach of Section 2." Varney said:
Withdrawing the Section 2 report is a shift in philosophy and the clearest way to let everyone know that the Antitrust Division will be aggressively pursuing cases where monopolists try to use their dominance in the marketplace to stifle competition and harm consumers. ... The Division will return to tried and true case law and Supreme Court precedent in enforcing the antitrust laws. ... The recent developments in the marketplace should make it clear that we can no longer rely upon the marketplace alone to ensure that competition and consumers will be protected.When the report was released in September, three of the four sitting US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) [official website; JURIST news archive] members denounced it [JURIST report] as "a blueprint for radically weakened enforcement" of federal antitrust law. The report explored single entity violations of Section 2 of the Sherman Act [text], in which a competitor seeks or maintains monopoly power which harms consumers.