Also known as the Antitrust Procedures and Penalties Act, 15 U.S.C. § 16, the Tunney Act mandates procedures that the United States government must follow when it wants to settle an antitrust suit -- most importantly, it must publish a proposed final judgment and competitive impact statement for public comment; accept public comment for sixty days; and respond to the public comment. The judge overseeing the settlement must then determine whether the settlement is "in the public interest."

The Tunney Act has gotten recent attention in the ongoing Microsoft saga. The first time the Justice Department brought Microsoft to court (in 1995, when the government challenged the bundling of MS-DOS and Windows 3.1 then settled its complaint, Judge Stanley Sporkin objected to the consent decree. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals reversed his decision, saying the judge's role in Tunney Act proceedings was not to try the government's case for it, when the government chose to settle. (Among other concerns, Sporkin had wanted Microsoft to cease its vaporware product announcements.) The D.C. Circuit sent the case to Thomas Penfield Jackson with an order to enter the proposed consent decree.

The 60-day period for public comment in the current U.S. v. Microsoft ends January 28, 2002. The government is accepting comments on the proposed settlement at

See for more information.

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