Opponents of the decades-long trend of corporate consolidation applauded President Joe Biden's reported decision to nominate Columbia Law School professor and "antitrust trailblazer" Lina Khan to a seat on the five-member Federal Trade Commission, a key regulatory agency tasked with protecting consumers from business abuses.
First reported by Politico Tuesday morning, Biden's selection of Khan for the FTC slot comes days after the president named Tim Wu—another leading monopoly critic who coined the term "net neutrality"—to a spot on the National Economic Council, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
"Lina Khan going to the FTC and Tim Wu going to the White House are two extraordinary, powerful choices by Biden," said Zephyr Teachout, an associate professor of law at Fordham University. "Lina is brilliant, kind, careful, and original, with nerves of steel. I am so happy for our country."
"One last thing to highlight: antitrust is not just about Big Tech," Teachout added. "It's ag[riculture] and hospitals. It's about democratic/economic policy broadly. About how private power is dispersed or centralized. Khan and Wu are not 'tech critics,' they are visionary anti-monopolists across the board."
Exactly. This is a major turning point moment. https://t.co/0HzPfl1yeg
— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) March 9, 2021
Prior to serving as counsel to the House Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law during its year and a half-long investigation of the digital marketplace, Khan rose to prominence as a critic of corporate concentration following the 2017 publication of her paper titled "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," which criticized the failure of current antitrust law to restrain the tech behemoth's anti-competitive practices.
In a 2018 profile, the New York Times characterized Khan's article—published when she was a student at Yale University—as a challenge to "decades of monopoly law."
"We applaud President Biden for recognizing that Lina Khan is a once-in-a-generation legal mind," Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, said in a statement Tuesday.
"Professor Khan is the intellectual architect of the bipartisan suits against Facebook and Google," Miller continued. "She has exposed the dangerous concentration of power in the meat industry. She's identified key national security concerns posed by our concentrated supply chains. And she has written thoughtfully about all of the tools the government should bring to bear to advance the interests of working people, smaller businesses, and local communities."
Lina Khan basically singlehandedly reinvigorated antitrust law as an academic. Then, at @HouseJudiciary, she laid out road map for breaking up Big Tech. Now, she’ll have the power of the FTC at her disposal.
This is massive. https://t.co/y6szK6H6fE
— Zach Fisch (@ZachFisch) March 9, 2021
Politico noted Tuesday morning that Biden's decision to elevate Khan and Wu to prominent government positions "represents a massive shift in philosophy away from the era of Barack Obama, who proudly forged an alliance between the Democratic Party and Big Tech."
Joining the chorus of applause, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) said Tuesday that "there is no possible better pick for FTC than Lina Khan."
"She is a thought leader and the embodiment of the modern antitrust movement," the group added. "Big move."
Justice Democrats, a progressive advocacy organization, offered similar praise for Biden's decision to nominate Khan, which has not yet been formally announced.
"This is a major progressive pick by the Biden administration to check the concentration of corporate power and uplift working families," the group tweeted.