On October 5, 2018, Jonathan Pitt was featured in CNN Business discussing the Department of Justice’s appeal of the recent U.S. District Court’s ruling allowing the merger between AT&T and Time Warner. Back in September, Justice Richard Leon, appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush, ruled that the Justice Department failed prove that the merger would violate antitrust law by raising prices and harming competition. The Justice Department's appeal of Judge Leon's ruling will be heard by a panel of three randomly selected judges from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The article discusses whether political leanings could affect the outcome of the appeal. When asked to comment, Jonathan explained that "[a]lthough views on antitrust enforcement don't necessarily fall neatly within one or another political viewpoint, conventionally, liberal judges are thought to be more pro-enforcement and conservative ones are thought to prefer to allow the market to correct issues, rather than government, wherever possible.” However, Jonathan added, "[i]t oversimplifies matters to say that liberal judges should want to undo the merger whereas conservative ones should want to permit it. On the other hand, to the extent anyone suggests that a conservative panel would be more likely to rule in DOJ's favor because the administration that brought the case is a conservative or Republican one, I would certainly disagree with that. I have to believe that to the judges on the D.C. Circuit, the critical antitrust principles at issue here, and conventional judicial views about the clearly erroneous standard, would govern the decision—not politics."
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*Williams & Connolly currently represents Time Warner on other matters.