Appeal of American Express antitrust decision to be decided with input of new administration, DOJ official says

30 March 2017 12:40pm

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29 March 2017. By Richard Vanderford.

US Justice Department antitrust enforcers will wait for input from new political leadership before deciding whether to appeal a loss in a case challenging American Express restrictions on merchants, a senior department official said.

The department has asked the US Supreme Court for more time so that President Donald Trump's expected appointees can weigh in on how to proceed, Patricia Brink, the director of civil enforcement in the Justice Department's antitrust division, said Wednesday at a conference in Washington.*

"We sought an extension from the Supreme Court for our writ of certiorari in order for us to consider our position, as well as to allow the new leadership in the division and the department to consider their position."

The extension will give the department until May to make a decision.

The Justice Department has challenged American Express rules that prevent merchants from pushing other, often cheaper-to-process payment methods. A New York trial judge sided with the enforcers, but the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed that decision in September.

The department has pursued the case since 2010. The new administration has the discretion to shelve appeal plans, though.

*American Bar Association Antitrust Law 2017 Spring Meeting. Washington, DC. March 29-31, 2017.

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