Aside from a few cranks scattered about the country, their is a political consensus in the U.S. that antitrust enforcement generally is good for us. The disagreements tend to be around the edges. Nothing better illustrates the consensus than the harmony prevailing for the last six years on the Senate Judiciary Committee's Antitrust Subcommittee, where Chairman Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) and Ranking member Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) have been giving bipartisanship a good name.
On June, their positions will be reversed, but the prevailing comity is likely to continue to prevail.
Upstream, however, things are somewhat less harmonious. There, we find that the incoming chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), is one of four Democrats to have voted against the nomination of Charles James to be assistant attorney general in charge of the Antitrust Division. The nomination was approved 14-4.
At the time, Leahy told James had that he had "been so successful in advising an impressive list of corporate clients that some have joked that you will have to recuse yourself from doing your job." [FTC: WATCH No. 566, May 14]
Last week, Washington was full of rumors that James' nomination may now be in some jeopardy, in part because James has violated Washington culture by putting his own people in place before he is confirmed. In a Republican-controlled Senate, that affront to senatorial prerogative might have been overlooked after some grumbling, but it could be problematical after June 4. Since Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) will remain majority leader through that day, he can bring James' nomination to the floor for a vote until the Democrats take over the next day. …