Stock Groups

Senate confirms Jonathan Kanter to lead DOJ Antitrust Division


Jonathan Kanter is an Antitrust Attorney and testifies before Congress on October 6th, 2021 at Washington DC.

Getty Images| Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Senate approved Jonathan Kanter’s confirmation as Assistant Attorney General of Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

Protesters cheered the nomination of Kanter by President Joe Biden, completeing the antitrust reformers’ trio. printed on coffee mugs. Lina Khan is the Federal Trade Commission Chair and Tim Wu is the National Economic Council Advisor.

Kanter is the DOJ’s antitrust chief. lawsuitAgainst GoogleFilled during Trump’s administration. It’s not clear if Kanter will withdraw from this case due to his work with Google competitors, which includes Yelp Microsoft.

Also, the DOJ reportedlyConcerns about competition are investigated Apple. Kanter is doing workFor SpotifyApple Music competitor,.

Kanter informed lawmakers that he would talk to ethics officials from the DOJ about recusal. Kanter said he was still able to nominate deputies who could help him with his antitrust strategy.

Senators from both sides of the aisle have supported Kanter’s nomination. They argued that tech companies hold too much power and not enough. The Judiciary Committee voted in favor of Kanter’s nomination.

Sen. John CornynSenator Judiciary Committee member Texas voted against Kanter’s advancement to the floor. Cornyn stated that while he shares some Kanter’s concerns about the tech sector and supports legislation to limit its influence, the DOJ’s Antitrust Division goes beyond just Big Tech.

Cornyn expressed his concern at Kanter’s critics of the consumer safety standard. This judicial framework has governed antitrust rulings since the 1960s. However, he was also hesitant about Kanter’s support for the broad standard. Antitrust practitioners and scholars who are reform-minded argue that the standard which looks at price changes for consumers is not broad enough to evaluate modern market realities such as those created digitally by platforms.

Cornyn stated that Kanter’s willingness to use antitrust enforcement in order to improve labor rights is inappropriate for this statute.

Cornyn stated that while he shared Mr. Kanter’s desire to ensure American markets work for their people, he didn’t believe in reducing important antitrust laws to serve short-term political ends.

Sen. Amy KlobucharD-Minn. chair of antitrust subcommittee. He responded to Cornyn with a reference to Kanter’s support by Trump antitrust chief Makan Delahim. Delrahim, one of the nine former DOJ antitrust chiefs who signed a letterLeaders of the Judiciary Committee urging Kanter to be swiftly confirmed.

Klobuchar stated that Kanter is “overall” where the committee is in terms how they’ve discussed this. This is an opportunity to unite behind a nominee in the same way that I supported Makan Delrahim after Donald Trump nominated them. I also understood we needed to go forward even though he may not be my first choice for antitrust.

Relations with FTC

Kanter will soon be working in the Antitrust Division. Businesses and lawyers alike will closely monitor Kanter’s policy signals and indicators of his plans to steer the company towards Khan’s FTC.

Khan and Kanter were both progressive favorites, but Kanter’s experience has placed him within close proximity of those lawyers who will present mergers and other competition issues to the agency. Before leaving to start his own law practice, he worked for the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. Khan, youngest person sworn in to lead the commission at age 32After writing a report to the House Judiciary committee on antitrust and competition in digital markets, she was a Columbia Law School teacher.

Khan implemented many competition policies that have made lawyers who work for the FTC scratch their heads. The FTC, for example, has been under Khan’s leadership. asking broader questions about the potential impacts that transactions could haveLike on labor markets. Some antitrust experts say that such questions do not directly pertain to evaluating competition harm, but the FTC indicates it is open to taking a larger view of the effects of competition.

Kanter indicated that he might not use the same approach. Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) asked Kanter if he would question subjects in antitrust investigations regarding their ESG policies to evaluate competitive harm.

Kanter stated that he doesn’t believe there are any situations in which ESG policies unrelated to competition issues could be relevant for antitrust enforcement.

Both the Antitrust Division and FTC share jurisdiction over cases involving civil antitrust conduct as well as review of mergers. Clearance is a method by which agencies divide their work. The clearance process is influenced by industry experience. Hospital mergers, for instance, often fall to the FTC. Some industries like tech are more complicated because every agency is experienced in these matters.

Clearance was a popular choice point of contention between agency headsThe Trump administration saw a split in ownership between Joe Simons, then FTC Chair, and Delrahim (then Antitrust Division chief). They ended up splitting the ownership of antitrust tech investigations with Delrahim taking over Facebook. AmazonThe DOJ taking Apple into account GoogleAs many outlets as possible reportedIn 2019.

Kanter stated in written answers for the record that, if confirmed, his intention was to “ensure the efficient and proper distribution of responsibility between DOJ and FTC and avoid unnecessary duplication.”

He mentioned his work in the FTC as a lawyer and said, “I hope that my perspective will improve collaboration between both agencies.”

This is a developing story. Keep checking back for more updates.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube.

WATCH: How US antitrust law works, and what it means for Big Tech