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If the Department of Justice had its way, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit would not be hearing the Microsoft case. But last year, the Supreme Court denied a request to take the case directly, and an en banc circuit panel will preside during a two-day argument. Two active judges have recused themselves: Merrick Garland, who worked at DOJ when the case was being developed, and Karen LeCraft Henderson, for reasons that have not been made public. Here is a rundown of the seven judges who will hear the case.

Chief Judge Harry Edwards: The 60-year-old Jimmy Carter appointee is in his last year as chief judge of the court, where he is known for fostering collegiality among the judges. Viewed as by far the most tech savvy on the D.C. Circuit bench, his proposal to bring in a specialist to educate the judges on the technical side of the Microsoft case failed after both sides attached conditions to the plan. Edwards does not deny the accuracy of his reputation as a tough questioner at oral argument, but says he simply expects lawyers to be prepared.

Judge Douglas Ginsburg: He is a brainy, somewhat aloof Ronald Reagan appointee whose 1987 nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was withdrawn when it was revealed that he had used marijuana. Because he is a former head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, some observers say other judges might follow Ginsburg’s lead in the Microsoft case; others doubt that fiercely independent appeals judges act that way. Microsoft may be counting on the 54-year-old Chicago-school economic conservative, but ideology can be tricky: Conservative icons Kenneth Starr and Robert Bork have joined amicus briefs on the side of the government.

Judge Stephen Williams: He wrote the majority opinion in the split 1998 D.C. Circuit decision rejecting the Justice Department’s claim that Microsoft had violated an earlier antitrust consent order. That decision used language that gives Microsoft considerable solace, but many observers say not too much should be read into this ruling, which dealt with a limited issue. A longtime law professor, Williams, 64, is a strong conservative and 1986 Reagan appointee who was a liberal and environmentalist well into the 1970s. He will become chief judge in late summer.

Judge David Sentelle: The North Carolinian and 1987 Reagan appointee prides himself on his folksy touch, and is probably the most down-the-line conservative on the court. A Jesse Helms prot�g� with a fondness for cowboy hats, Sentelle heads the court’s special division that appoints independent counsel, a body that is staying busy even though the independent counsel law has lapsed. The only former trial judge on the seven-member Microsoft panel, Sentelle, 58, is not as active a questioner of counsel as are many others on this very vocal bench.

Judge A. Raymond Randolph: A former deputy solicitor general and Pepper Hamilton partner named to the bench by George Bush in 1990, Randolph, 57, is a close friend of Robert Bork who helped Bork prepare for hearings in his unsuccessful Supreme Court bid in 1987. Randolph joined Judge Williams’ opinion rejecting the Justice Department’s arguments in the 1998 Microsoft consent-decree case. With a dry wit and low-key style that has endeared him to his colleagues on the bench, Randolph considers himself a problem-solver who comes to cases without an agenda.

Judge Judith Rogers: She joined the court in 1994 after 11 years as a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, including six years as chief judge. Rogers, 61, exhibits a quieter tone than some of her colleagues but often asks tough questions. Like many Clinton appointees, she is considered a thoughtful and a moderate liberal. Strongly identified with D.C. local affairs as a longtime mayoral aide in the 1970s and the city’s corporation counsel in the early 1980s, Rogers was one of the first black women to graduate from Harvard Law School.

Judge David Tatel: A 1994 Clinton appointee who was mentioned as a possible Supreme Court nominee had Al Gore been elected, Tatel, 58, is considered a liberal but is highly respected by conservatives for his intelligence. A former Hogan & Hartson partner who headed the firm’s education practice and was active in a number of civil rights causes, he is also the first blind person to sit on the D.C. Circuit. He can be tough on trial judges. In 1998, he joined an opinion criticizing then-U.S. District Judge Stanley Sporkin by name in a criminal case.

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