⏩ A “hipster antitrust” lawyer is Biden’s new pick for tech regulation
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This week: Biden’s FTC takes shape and Jeff Bezos turns up the heat on lawmakers. Plus, the latest U.S. News law school rankings were released with some controversy.
Joe Biden just sent his strongest signal for tech regulation yet: Last week, he nominated Lina Khan, one of the most prominent antitrust experts in the world, to the FTC.
Lina Khan started making waves in 2017: She was pretty much the most productive law student of all time. While still attending Yale, she published an article in the Yale Law Journal stating the issues with the United States’ focus on prices when deciding antitrust issues. Critics referred to her take as “hipster antitrust,” although it has steadily gained in popularity.
After law school she got deeper into antitrust: Khan helped author a 400-page congressional report touting the need for new laws if antitrust enforcers wanted to get anything done.
Wu + Khan
Combined with Columbia Law professor Tim Wu, whom Biden selected for a White House position, the pick of Khan illustrates a willingness to confront the tech industry. The FTC, in particular, has been bereft of resources.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, “We need all hands on deck as we work to take on some of the biggest monopolies in the world, and President Biden is making his commitment to competition clear.”
The FTC has five seats. Biden still needs to pick another commissioner before the group has a majority of members favoring stronger antitrust actions.
Over the last week, Amazon execs launched some top grade Twitter snark against famous U.S. lawmakers.
The weirdest part? The call to get wild on social media appears to have come from Mr. Amazon himself.
Amazon and politicians have long had adversarial relationships: But the company has taken the next step. After Bernie Sanders announced he would meet with employees attempting a union push in Alabama, an Amazon exec taunted him for not delivering on progressive promises. The official account for Amazon’s media relations team then got into a tiff with Elizabeth Warren that lasted for days.
Jeff Bezos directed it: According to Recode, he was behind the corporate shade. He had recently expressed to top employees the need for Amazon to fight criticisms with greater strength.
Amazon has been under serious duress
There’s the obvious increased scrutiny among federal regulators. On top of that, several thousand Alabama employees may start a union. Their votes to unionize began on Tuesday (it is unclear when the results will come in).
Even Amazon employees were taken aback by the tweets. One filed an internal report with the company expressing concern the company’s Twitter account had been hacked.
Even for established lawyers, the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings are always fun to discuss.
But there’s an extra talking point this year, which is: Are these rankings legit?
The rankings were released Monday: They came out after some last-minute revisions that miffed law school administrators. On March 16, U.S. News released an embargoed version of the rankings to schools before sending out a different version later in the day in which the positions of 35 schools had changed.
Meanwhile there was supposed to be a diversity component: But U.S. News acknowledged it failed to count Asian students and multiethnic students (ugh). So it just scrapped the diversity rankings. As Law.com put it, the various back-and-forth led some critics to describe the rankings as “meaningless” and “arbitrary.”
Anyway, onto the rankings. UCLA leaped into the famed T-14, with Georgetown falling out. But some things never change: Yale, Stanford and Harvard were still the top three schools. (Full list here).
💌 What else we’re forwarding
Bankruptcies fell for people during the pandemic but rose for businesses: The good news for average joes may not last, however. Bankruptcies tend to follow financial distress by 12 to 18 months.
Supreme Court season is heating up: From abortion laws in Kentucky to NCAA amateurism to Goldman Sachs’ ethical duties, SCOTUS has been listening to some major arguments. Decisions are not expected for several weeks.
🎧 Music we’re working to
Today we're listening to Los Pakines, a band founded in the 70's that hails from Peru. They play cumba and instrumental rock. We're loving their 1979 anthology, Lo Mejor de lo Mejor, re-released last year for major chill vibes led by the electric guitar with soft drum beats.
Lo Mejor de lo Mejor - Los Pakines (40m, no vocals except some La’s on “Solitario”)
💬 Discussion threads
See ya next week.