Expect to see more CEOs (like Bill Gates here) having to answer monopolization charges.

Blawgletter has made no secret of our disappointment with antitrust law enforcement over the last eight years.  (Lookie here and here, for example.)  We've also guessed that an Obama administration would get tougher on monopolists and cartels.

Today, the rumor mill suggests that our speculation at least got the general direction of antitrust policy right.

The latest has Christine Varney as the probable new head of the Antitrust Division, a wing of the U.S. Department of Justice.

A Bloomberg report describes her as a "deal broker" who aggressively enforced antitrust law during a stint as a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission in the Clinton administration.

Ms. Varney apparently hasn't litigated many (if any) antitrust cases.  A search on the CM-ECF site for her hometown federal court, the District of the District of Columbia, disclosed no cases of any kind in which she appeared as counsel.  So, she likely has far more experience in policy-making and advisory roles than in the litigation context.

Will that background mean an aversion to heading to court?  We hope not — and note with approval Ms. Varney's role, as counsel for Netscape, in encouraging the Department of Justice to prosecute Microsoft for monopolization of the Internet browser market.  PBS interview on Feb. 26, 1999, here.  She also, according to Bloomberg, "often joined 3-2 majorities [while an FTC commissioner] to press antitrust and consumer-protection complaints against companies."

UPDATE:  Reuters confirms the nomination of Ms. Varney as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Antitrust Division.

We reproduce the text of Ms Varney's current bio on the website of Hogan & Hartson – Chief Justice John Roberts's old firm – for your information:

Christine Varney rejoined Hogan & Hartson in 1997, after five years in government service, to head the firm's Internet practice group. This practice provides full service assistance to companies doing business globally, including providing advice on antitrust, privacy, business planning and corporate governance, intellectual property, and general liability issues. Christine has provided antitrust, competition policy, and regulatory advice to a variety of companies, including eBay, Fox Interactive Media/MySpace, Orbitz Worldwide, Inc., DoubleClick, Ernst & Young, EMI, Intelius,, American Hospital Association, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, Dow Jones & Company, AOL, Synopsys, Compaq Computer, Gateway, Netscape, The Liberty Alliance, and Real Networks.

In addition, Christine has been instrumental in the founding of several industry self-regulation associations, including the Network Advertising Initiative and Online Privacy Alliance, working to create Internet best practices policies. She has received extensive media attention for the caliber of her work, including recognition in Chambers USA 2007, where she is considered “widely respected,” particularly on Internet and privacy issues.

During her U.S. government tenure, Christine served as a Federal Trade Commissioner from 1994 to 1997. At the Federal Trade Commission, she was a leading official on a wide variety of Internet issues. She also pioneered the application of innovation market theory analysis to transactions in both electronic high technology and biotechnology. She led the government's effort to examine privacy issues in the information age, resulting in congressional and agency hearings, proposed industry standards, and increased government enforcement of laws protecting privacy.

Prior to becoming a Federal Trade Commissioner, Christine was an Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Cabinet. She was the primary point of contact for the 20-member Cabinet. She was responsible for the overall coordination of several major issues and initiatives between the White House and various agencies.

Before joining the Clinton Administration, Christine practiced law with Hogan & Hartson. In addition, she served as Chief Counsel to the Clinton/Gore Campaign, General Counsel to the 1992 Presidential Inaugural Committee, and General Counsel to the Democratic National Committee from 1989 to 1992.

Christine lectures extensively, both in the United States and abroad, on various legal issues in American politics. She is also involved in an ongoing international dialogue on comparative political processes and competition policy with foreign government officials through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She regularly contributes to a variety of publications, including Newsweek, Antitrust Magazine, and Wired.

Representative Experience
Provided antitrust, regulatory, competition policy, and consumer protection advice to multinational content, technology, and commerce businesses, including eBay, DoubleClick, Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, Dow Jones & Company, AOL, Synopsys, Compaq Computer, Gateway, Netscape, and Real Networks.
Provided antitrust and data protection advice to the Liberty Alliance, a consortium of more than 160 technology and consumer-facing organizations formed in September 2001 to establish an open standard for federated network identity.
Provided antitrust and data protection advice to the Online Privacy Alliance, a nonprofit organization of more than 30 global corporations and associations that have come together to introduce and promote business-wide actions that create an environment of trust and foster the protection of individuals' privacy online.
Provided antitrust and data protection advice to the Network Advertising Initiative, a group of network advertising companies that developed self-regulatory principles to govern their information collection practices.

Feed-icon-14x14  Shockingly, our feed has no aversion to heading to court.