The U.S. Department of Justice and state officials are filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on today, rebutting Microsoft's argument that the antitrust case should move next to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

The Justice Department and 19 U.S. states that were plaintiffs in the antitrust case want the next step to be the U.S. Supreme Court.

Microsoft petitioned the Supreme Court in July to return the case to the appeals court. Microsoft contends an appeal is warranted because it claims the lawsuit was full of factual and legal errors.

The DOJ and the 19 states want the case put on the fast track for appeals and to go directly to the nation's highest court when court convenes in October, rather than being heard by the intermediary appeals court.

The case holds national economic importance and deserves the review of the Supreme Court, government prosecutors say.

Microsoft will reply to the DOJ's brief 22 August, according to Jim Cullinan, Microsoft spokesperson.
"We believe the Supreme Court would benefit from an initial review by the Court of Appeals because of the complex nature of our appeal, and we look forward to responding 22 August," Cullinan says.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on the jurisdictional question by as early as September.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson ordered in June that Microsoft be split into two companies: an applications company and one focused on operating systems. He also ruled that Microsoft is subject to a set of behavioural remedies.

Those remedies are on hold until the appeals process ends.