The Biden administration’s likely nomination of law professor Lina Khan as a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission might seem like a call to arms for tech companies. The appointment of Khan, who authored a seminal legal paper on how antitrust law could be used to prevent Amazon from extending its dominance to new businesses, would make it more likely the FTC would sue that company and others, including Broadcom, which is also the target of a yearslong FTC investigation.
But Khan won’t be able to do much to escalate the agency’s antitrust fight unless President Joe Biden nominates other sympathetic commissioners to round out the FTC’s Democratic majority. And if the agency files lawsuits based on her theories, it could face a skeptical judiciary stacked with conservative Trump administration appointees. Such suits could be further disadvantaged because antitrust enforcement in digital markets is relatively new and untested in the courts.