One of the few things that most Republicans and Democrats agree on is the need to tackle big tech monopolies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Despite this bipartisan consensus, however, these companies have manipulated Washington to avoid accountability.
Fortunately, Jonathan Kanter, who has been appointed to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division, has the experience and courage to work with Democrats and Republicans to finally take on these behemoths.
Republicans should applaud his appointment, because even though he is a liberal Democrat, Kanter believes the enforcement should be based on the original meaning of antitrust law – an approach, known as textualism, which is at the heart of the conservative ideals. He is one of those unusual candidates whose antitrust philosophy appeals to both left and right.
As a conservative Republican and Louisiana attorney general, I have been very critical of the Biden administration. I have filed lawsuits against the president for his restrictions on drilling, the release of criminal aliens and COVID-19 restrictions, and I have opposed the vast majority of his appointments. I will continue to fight the Biden administration when it encroaches on our rights and freedoms. However, it’s just as important for Republicans to recognize when they’re doing the right thing and to work together on the pressing issues we face.
Federal antitrust authorities in the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice have generally given free rein to Silicon Valley giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon. They’ve approved almost every major merging in Silicon Valley and accepted almost every twisted argument that predatory and monopolistic behavior, such as Google prioritizing its own search results or Amazon boosting its own products, somehow benefits. to consumers and are therefore not anti-competitive. The millions of dollars Big Tech spent influencing academics, think tanks, and politicians to emulate its talking points certainly made this outcome more likely.
President Trump has taken significant steps to get our antitrust agencies to start enforcing the law, bringing a groundbreaking lawsuit against Google for the company’s use of monopoly power to discriminate against rivals in search and advertising . I was proud to join this trial along with over a dozen other state attorneys general. The trial is ongoing, and Jonathan Kanter is undoubtedly one of the best lawyers to continue this fight.
Kanter was a lawyer at the FTC, then worked in the private sector as a partner at Paul, Weiss and his own firm. Kanter’s work in the private sector and government has given him significant insight into how tech companies manipulate the political process, which will enable him to counter their influence.
While many lawyers who move between government and Big Law end up being corrupted by the swamp, Jonathan Kanter is known to represent people and businesses, like Yelp and News Corp., who have taken on Facebook and Google. Most of his colleagues at the antitrust bar are too afraid to criticize Silicon Valley monopolies because they hope to get them as clients. However, Kanter fearlessly called out Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon for their abuse of our political and economic system.
Given the influence of technology and the strong partisan divisions in Washington, I was concerned that Biden would appoint an antitrust leader who would rather score political points against the Republicans than work with us to take on the monopolies. However, while Jonathan Kanter is not a Conservative, he has long worked across the aisle to find common ground on antitrust.
While many Democrats attempt to demonize conservative legal groups like the Federalist Society, Kanter is not afraid of constructive dialogue. He has spoken at Federalist Society conferences and appeared on podcasts to discuss antitrust matters. He made a compelling case to society that the consumer welfare standard – a legal theory that Silicon Valley lawyers have used to weaken antitrust laws – contradicts the conservative legal tradition of textualism. In this tradition, the original intent of the law, rather than simply the benefit to consumers, should be the deciding factor. More and more conservatives, including myself, now agree with Kanter that defining as acceptable any corporate behavior that leads to lower prices for consumers is not true to the original intention. of antitrust law.
Republicans in the Senate are expected to vote to confirm Jonathan Kanter and work with him, along with state attorneys general, to finally hold tech titans to account for their anti-competitive behavior. There is no reason for antitrust to be a partisan issue when it is clear that both sides are ready for a new approach.
Jeff Landry is the Attorney General of Louisiana.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.