For 100 years in this country, the 1890 Sherman Act was known as the
tool that President Theodore Roosevelt used to attack John D.
Rockefeller. The complaint the Unites States Justice Department pursued
for 10 years against Standard Oil Trust was finally settled in 1911
before the Supreme Court, when Standard Oil Trust, which controlled 92%
of the oil and gas business in this country, was broken up into seven
It was not until 1999, when President Bill Clinton and Attorney General
Janet Reno went after Bill Gates and Microsoft that the Sherman Act was
back in the headlines (see Case 24-5 in your text). Using this antitrust
legislation, Clinton and Reno succeeded in getting a federal district
court decision to fine Microsoft $5 billion, and ordered it broken up
into four separate companies. Microsoft appealed to the Federal Circuit
Court of Appeals, and politics hit home. Bill Clinton and Janet Reno
headed for retirement, and President George W. Bush and Attorney General
(former Senator) John Ashcroft took over the Justice Department. Within
5 months of taking office, in May, 2001, Bush and Ashcroft settled the
deal with damages reduced to $300 million and no Microsoft breakup.
Is this just too political to be allowed? Review the 1890 Sherman Act
and the Microsoft Case in your text. Under the guidance of the 1890
Sherman Antitrust Act, what would you have done as Attorney General of
the United States?