Skip Oliva, a contributing writer to Capitalism Magazine, and president of Citizens for Voluntary Trade, has filed a motion to intervene in the federal antitrust case against Village Voice Media and NT Media, two publishing companies that allegedly engaged in “market allocation” in violation of U.S. antitrust laws. Oliva’s 15-page brief to the U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio, details numerous allegations of misconduct and unconstitutional abuse of prosecutorial power by the Justice Department. Writes Oliva:

“Last Thursday, a U.S. district judge in Cleveland approved an antitrust settlement in the case of United States v. Village Voice Media, LLC and NT Media, LLC.  In this settlement, the defendant companies–successful newspaper publishers–were forced to divest assets of two newspapers previously closed by the companies for financial reasons. The United States acted to override the business judgment of both companies because Justice Department lawyers believe there is a market for ‘alternative newsweekly’ publications which was being monopolized in Cleveland and Los Angeles by the companies actions.

 “Despite the fact the government presented no evidence which demonstrated the existence of an independent market for ‘alternative newsweeklies,” the district judge presiding over this case approved the settlement without comment. In doing so, the judge abused his discretion by ignoring the comments offered by CVT and two amicus briefs filed by me outlining numerous objections to the settlement on constitutional and statutory grounds.

“As a result of the judge’s decision, today I have filed a motion for leave to intervene in this case for the sole purpose of appealing last Thursday’s final judgment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which has jurisdiction over district courts in Ohio. My intent is to seek appellate review of both the government’s conduct in this case as well as the unprecedented legal theory they’ve sought to advance here–namely that the government can violate the First Amendment rights of Americans in order to ensure ‘competition’ and ‘diversity’ in the so-called ‘alternative newsweekly’ market.

 “The government’s misconduct in this case is also an issue for appeal. Under the law governing antitrust settlements, the United States must wait at least 60 days from the date the public is officially notified of a settlement before a final judgment is entered.  Congress designed this requirement to ensure the public would have a meaningful opportunity to review and analyze a settlement as part of the court’s function of ensuring all settlements were in the ‘public interest.’  In this case, the Justice Department ignored the 60 day rule, and proceeded to complete the divestiture of assets more than one month before the comment period expired.  This violated the statutory requirements of the Tunney Act, and to date the government has offered no justification for its actions.

 “I look forward to presenting my case to the Sixth Circuit, and I fully expect the district court to grant me the opportunity to do so.”

Way to go Skip!

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