Discover more from BIG by Matt Stoller
Judge Florence Pan got elevated to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Pan looks pretty good on antitrust, so this is a rare bit of good news on the judiciary.
Welcome to BIG, a newsletter on the politics of monopoly power. If you’d like to sign up to receive issues over email, you can do so here
Over the years, I’ve made a lot out of bad judging on antitrust, because judges, whether Democratic or Republicans, have for the last forty years warped the laws designed to constrain corporate power. There’s a bit of tentative good news on this front. Judge Florence Pan, who oversaw the Simon & Schuster-Penguin merger, was just elevated to the important Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Pan hasn’t decided on the book publisher merger yet, but she has already weighed in on important procedural and legal issues. She’s ruled that the parties can’t argue that an unlawful merger is otherwise legal if they can show that it reduces costs or enhances efficiency, and she’s generally been friendly to the notion that antitrust law applies to buyers of labor - aka the publishers buying books from authors - as well as the more traditional product markets involving consumer prices.
ll see how she rules, but I suspect she’ll be better than most in her new position. And she’s now going to sit on the appeals court that’ll hear a challenge to the UnitedHealth-Change merger, if the Antitrust Division chooses to appeal it.