One would think with the House of Representatives currently embroiled in impeachment hearings and other ongoing investigations concerning President Donald Trump, the Department of Justice (DOJ) would be focused on more pertinent and related efforts.
However, that does not seem to be the case.
Multiple outlets are reporting that a day after filing a legal brief which opposed the Writers Guild of America’s motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit by the largest agencies of the Association of Talent Agents (ATA) – CAA, WME, ICM and UTA – Trump-appointed Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim and the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division has requested that a federal judge allow the DOJ to participate in the dismissal hearing set for December 6.
Part of the filing, which was obtained by TheWrap, states, “The [DOJ] believes that its participation at the December 6 hearing would be of substantial assistance to the Court, and leaves it to the discretion of the Court to decide the form and extent of the [DOJ’s] participation at the hearing.”
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To no one’s surprise, the agencies’ counsel do not oppose the request. Counsel for the WGA does.
In the agencies’ lawsuit, they argue that the guild is participating in an “illegal boycott” by having thousands of its writers terminate their representation in order to pressure the agencies to eliminate packaging fees.
Tuesday, the DOJ seemed to take the sides of the agencies by filing a legal brief.
While cautioning that it was not taking a position on the merits of the case the Justice Department nevertheless recommended the judge delve further and explore writers’ reasons and motivations to dismiss.
Their statement included an admonishment from the Supreme Court: “Labor unions are lawful combinations that serve the collective interests of workers, but they also possess the power to control the character of competition in an industry.”
The WGA has argued that antitrust laws preventing illegal boycotts do not apply to them, citing labor laws that allow for unions to improve their working conditions through self-organizing.
Connecting Delrahim to President Trump, who is vehemently against unions, WGA West President, David A. Goodman responded with a statement, “It’s not surprising that Trump’s Justice Department has filed a brief designed to weaken a labor union’s effort to protect its members and eliminate conflicts of interest by talent agencies. The agencies’ antitrust claims are contrary to Supreme Court precedent, and we remain confident that the court will dismiss them.”
According to TheWrap, Delrahim announced the DOJ would seek to repeal the 1948 Paramount consent decreees. This was a landmark Supreme Court ruling that forced studios to give up ownership of theater chains.
The hearing is set for December 6.