The nine states still pursuing the Microsoft Corp. antitrust case told a federal judge on Friday that they have "long and clearly established" authority to seek their own sanctions against the company.
In a legal brief filed with U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, the nine states cited longtime legal precedent in an effort to fend off Microsoft's contention that they have no legal standing to interfere with the U.S. Justice Department's nationwide settlement of the case.
The filing comes only two days before the scheduled start of hearings designed to determine whether the judge should impose stricter sanctions than those in the Justice Department deal.
The dissenting states, which include California, Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut, said their right to pursue the case separately from the Justice Department "has been so long and clearly established that it cannot today be seriously challenged."
The dissenting states got support for their argument from one of the state officials who signed on to the settlement: New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.
In a separate legal filing, Spitzer also disputed the legal basis for Microsoft's argument.
"Microsoft has stitched together this argument from whole cloth," Spitzer wrote in his brief.
Microsoft asked Kollar-Kotelly last month to dismiss the stringent antitrust sanctions being sought by the dissenting states, saying the states are trying to "displace" the Justice Department's decision to settle the case.