Sections of the media are abuzz with reports that President Joe Biden is expected to nominate Lina Khan, a Pakistani-American antitrust scholar and critic of large tech companies, to a seat on the five-member Federal Trade Commission.
If nominated and confirmed, Lina Khan will not be new to the commission as she previously served as a legal advisor in the office of Indian American FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra and as legal director at the Open Markets Institute. She will be the third Pakistani-American to join Biden administration in a senior position.
President Biden has already inducted three Pakistani Americans, Dilawar Syed, Salman Ahmed and Ali Zaidi into his team. Ahmed is a national security and foreign policy adviser who is now the director of policy planning in the Biden administration. Zaidi is a lawyer and political adviser who joined the administration as the first deputy White House National Climate Adviser. Syed has been nominated to serve as the deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration
Widely considered an “antitrust trailblazer“, Lina Khan is an associate professor of law at Columbia Law School, where she teaches and writes on antitrust law, infrastructure industries law, and the antimonopoly tradition. Several of her writings have focused on the ways that dominant digital platforms freshly reveal the shortcomings of the current approach to antitrust.
Khan’s work has been published by the Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, The University of Chicago Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal. The New York Times has described Khan’s scholarship as having “reframed decades of monopoly law,” and Politico has called her “a leader of a new school of antitrust thought.”
Prior to joining Columbia, Lina Khan served as counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, where she led a congressional investigation into digital markets and the publication of its final report. The subcommittee investigated platforms such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google and found evidence of monopolization and monopoly power. Her work has focused on how the current antitrust regime is unequipped to capture the power of dominant digital platforms, according to her website.
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. Her paper was awarded the 2018 Antitrust Writing Award for “Best Academic Unilateral Conduct Article,” the Yale Law School’s Israel H. Peres Prize, and the Yale Law Journal’s Michael Egger Prize.
Her article, “The Separation of Platforms and Commerce,” won the 2019 Jerry S. Cohen Memorial Fund’s Best Antitrust Article on Remedies, and her co-authored article, “The Case for ‘Unfair Methods of Competition’ Rulemaking,” received the 2020 Antitrust Writing Award for “Best General Antitrust Academic Article.”
Khan’s scholarship has also been profiled or discussed by The Atlantic, Bloomberg, The Economist, Financial Times, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. She has been named to the Politico 50, Foreign Policy magazine’s Global Thinkers, Prospect magazine’s Top 50 Thinkers, WIRED25, National Journal 50, and Time magazine’s Next Generation Leaders.
She has presented her work before the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, the Federal Trade Commission, the House Judiciary Committee, and the European Commission.
As one of five members of the FTC, Khan, reported the Wall Street Journal, would be in a “position to influence policies, rulemakings and enforcement actions at an agency with authority to administer antitrust and consumer-protection laws.”
She won’t be able to dictate decisions, given that she is likely to be one of three members of a Democratic majority, noted the publication.
Public Citizen, the advocacy group, said the Wall Street Journal called the expected nomination “a hopeful sign that the Biden administration intends to take a more aggressive approach,” pointing to her experience as a congressional staffer.
Khan is a graduate of Williams College and Yale Law School, where was awarded the Reinhardt Fellowship for public interest 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 on March 9.
“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 was born in London to Pakistani parents and moved with them to the United States when she was 11 years old. She graduated from Williams College in 2010 where was awarded the Reinhardt Fellowship for public interest law. It was at Williams College that she wrote her thesis on Hannah Arendt. She was also the editor of the student newspaper at Williams. After graduating she went to work at the New America Foundation, where she did anti-monopoly research and writing for the Open Markets Program. She earned a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2017, where she served as submissions editor of the Yale Journal on Regulation.
Courtesy, Aspen Institute