Decision to Prosecute
"In these days everything is a 'trust'—and denounced as a conspiracy." What Charles Francis Adams observed in 1888 is even truer since the late 1960s. Big business has come under intense attack, with the American public's increasing suspicion that it deceives and robs and that economic power and wealth are dangerously concentrated.
This study of the Antitrust Division of the Justice Department focuses on the basis on which the division selects cases for trial. Between 1971 and 1974 Professor Weaver conducted an extensive series of interviews with division personnel, congressional staff members, and journalists who were particularly knowledgeable about antitrust issues. Incorporating these data, as well as documentary research, her book provides a first-rate description of the organization's behavior and animus. The description of the division and its policymaking process also serves as a vehicle for discussing broader issues in public management, for the author uses her study to highlight problems in governmental regulatory agencies in general.
The book begins with a detailed explanation of the division's structure and responsibilities. It then reviews the historical background, examining closely the implications of the Sherman and Clayton Acts and underscoring the fact that the country as a whole has traditionally experienced conflicts in formulating opinions about antitrust policy. One chapter is devoted to the prosecutors themselves—what kinds of lawyers are drawn to this work, their commitments and attitudes. Coverage of the patterns in antitrust decisions, the executive levels within the division, and the external influences brought to bear on the division from business and political groups take up succeeding chapters. The final chapter discusses the balance that the division has struck among all these factors and measures it against other available alternatives.