Statement for the Record to House Judiciary Ahead of Justice ATR Oversight Hearing
Dear Chair Jordan, Ranking Member Nadler, and members of the Committee,
In 1972, the Supreme Court described our nation’s antitrust laws “the Magna Carta of free enterprise,” calling them “as important to the preservation of economic freedom and our free-enterprise system as the Bill of Rights is to the protection of our fundamental personal freedoms.”
Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, who entered the Justice Department with a striking show of bipartisan support for his confirmation and the public endorsement of nine former Antitrust Division heads, has risen to the challenge of that bold mandate. Under his leadership, the Division has led the revitalization the enforcement of our antitrust laws after decades of neglect, reversing a worrying trend of under-enforcement of the statutes that protect Americans’ basic economic freedoms.
In addition to reviewing hundreds of merger transactions and working to stop harmful illegal mergers, the Division has also worked to stamp out anticompetitive business practices to ensure that markets are fair, competitive, innovative, and ripe for new entrants. The Division has worked to protect Americans’ wages by stopping anticompetitive tactics in labor markets that suppress pay and prevent workers from switching jobs. Today, the Antitrust Division’s impact can be seen economy-wide through nearly every sector of the economy, from agriculture, transportation, and infrastructure to healthcare, technology, energy, publishing, and more.
Just last week, the Division sued the nation’s fifth-largest poultry processor for artificially stifling farmers’ compensation. The suit is part of a concerted effort to restore competition to captured agriculture markets: the Division has launched multiple lawsuits against price- and wage-fixing schemes in which dominant meat processors like Koch Foods, Tyson Foods, and Cargill colluded to gouge American consumers, exploit workers and farmers, and keep meat prices high. The Antitrust Division has already won $90 million in restitution for those affected.
In transportation, AAG Kanter’s Antitrust Division successfully challenged the de facto merger of American Airlines and JetBlue through their “Northeast Alliance,” which a federal court agreed increased fares and reduced choice for American travelers. On the heels of that victory, the Division is litigating a court challenge to block the merger of Spirit Airlines and JetBlue. This is a particularly critical case, since JetBlue’s own internal documents admitted that the merger would similarly raise prices and that the threat of removing ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit from the market would greatly impact the price of air travel across the country. The Division has won the abandonment of billions of dollars’ worth of major mergers in shipping and building materials that would have stifled competition and increased costs, and secured guilty verdicts in bid-rigging cases against construction firms across the country, winning the first criminal monopolization case in 50 years.
In healthcare, the Division secured the largest ever criminal penalty for a domestic cartel, fining pharma giants Teva and Glenmark $300 million for colluding to fix prices of widely-used cholesterol drug pravastatin and ordering the firms to divest the drugs. The DOJ has fought publishing giants at trial, successfully blocking the multi-billion dollar merger of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, while also taking on gaming heavyweights like Activision, winning a settlement for wage suppression.
The Division is taking the fight to Big Tech, continuing the Trump Administration’s lawsuit against Google for illegally monopolizing internet search. The DOJ is now litigating what has been called the “antitrust trial of the century,” exposing how Google has attempted to control Americans’ access to the free internet by locking their devices into default search agreements worth tens of billions of dollars. The Division is also seeking to break up Google’s monopoly over internet advertising, with a lawsuit already filed and another trial on the horizon.
Under AAG Kanter, the Justice Department is providing a critical road map to fairer, freer, and more competitive economy. To that end, the Division has also fostered partnerships across the federal government with nearly a dozen agencies from the DOL to HHS, and prioritized state-level coordination to bring cases and promote competitive markets. Along with the FTC, the Antitrust Division also issued robust new merger guidelines to help courts and enforcers combat corporate consolidation across the American economy and ensure that our legal and enforcement frameworks are prepared for new markets and emerging economic challenges. The new guidelines received significant public input in the form of nearly 6,000 public comments from entrepreneurs, small businesses, workers, and consumers who have experienced firsthand the effects of mega-mergers and acquisitions. Together, they overwhelmingly expressed support for stronger enforcement.
Under AAG Kanter, the Justice Department has renewed its commitment to the firm and fair enforcement of our nation’s antitrust laws, returning to its critical role fighting the corporate consolidation harming workers, businesses, consumers, and free markets. The Antitrust Division’s track record has already proved an effective deterrent to anticompetitive deals, with fewer mega-mergers now making it out of corporate boardrooms for fear of a challenge and executives going on record to lament the bygone days of weak enforcement.
We thank AAG Kanter and the Antitrust Division for their critical work to help foster a more resilient, robust, just, and stable economy. Likewise, we applaud the Committee for serving its essential oversight function by holding this important hearing, and we encourage you to continue supporting the Antitrust Division’s critical law enforcement mission and uplifting its robust slate of accomplishments in service of the American people.
American Economic Liberties Project
Economic Security Project Action
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Progressive Change Campaign Committee
Open Markets Institute
 United States v. Topco Associates, Inc., 405 U.S. 596, 610 (1972)
 Lauren Feiner, “Nine former DOJ antitrust chiefs urge Senate to confirm Jonathan Kanter as antitrust head,” CNBC, Sep 24, 2021, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/24/former-doj-antitrust-chiefs-urge-senate-to-confirm-jonathan-kanter.html.
 United States Department of Justice, “Justice Department Files Lawsuit and Proposed Consent Decree to Prohibit Koch Foods from Imposing Unfair and Anticompetitive Termination Penalties in Contracts with Chicken Growers,” Press Release, Nov 9, 2023, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-files-lawsuit-and-proposed-consent-decree-prohibit-koch-foods-imposing.
 Leah Douglas, “US DOJ files meat industry antitrust case against Agri Stats,” Reuters, Sep 28, 2023, https://www.reuters.com/legal/us-doj-brings-meat-industry-antitrust-case-against-data-company-agri-stats-2023-09-28/.
 Dan Papscun, “Cargill, Sanderson, Wayne to Pay $85 Million in DOJ Settlement,” Bloomberg Law, Jul 25, 2022, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/antitrust/cargill-wayne-farms-sued-by-doj-for-sharing-wage-benefits-data.
 DOJ, “Global Shipping Container Suppliers China International Marine Containers and Maersk Container Industry Abandon Merger after Justice Department Investigation,” Aug 25, 2022, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/global-shipping-container-suppliers-china-international-marine-containers-and-maersk.
 DOJ, “Verzatec Abandons Proposed Acquisition of Crane Composites Following Justice Department Suit to Block,” May 26, 2022, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/verzatec-abandons-proposed-acquisition-crane-composites-following-justice-department-suit.
 DOJ, “Asphalt Paving Company and President Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging,” Aug 29, 2023, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/asphalt-paving-company-and-president-plead-guilty-bid-rigging.
 DOJ, “Executive Pleads Guilty to Criminal Attempted Monopolization,” Oct 31, 2022, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/executive-pleads-guilty-criminal-attempted-monopolization.
 DOJ, “Major Generic Drug Companies to Pay Over Quarter of a Billion Dollars to Resolve Price-Fixing Charges and Divest Key Drug at the Center of Their Conspiracy,” Aug 21, 2023, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/major-generic-drug-companies-pay-over-quarter-billion-dollars-resolve-price-fixing-charges.
 DOJ, “Justice Department Obtains Permanent Injunction Blocking Penguin Random House’s Proposed Acquisition of Simon & Schuster,” Oct 31, 2022, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-obtains-permanent-injunction-blocking-penguin-random-house-s-proposed.
 DOJ, “Justice Department Files Lawsuit and Proposed Consent Decree to Prohibit Activision Blizzard from Suppressing Esports Player Compensation,” Apr 3, 2023, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-files-lawsuit-and-proposed-consent-decree-prohibit-activision-blizzard.
 Leah Nylen, “Google Paid $26 Billion to Be Default Search Engine in 2021,” Bloomberg, Oct 27, 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-10-27/google-paid-26-3-billion-to-be-default-search-engine-in-2021
 DOJ, “Justice Department And FTC Seek Comment on Draft Merger Guidelines,” Jul 19, 2023, https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-and-ftc-seek-comment-draft-merger-guidelines; Andrew Sfekas et al., “Public’s M&A Comments Hold Clues For Agency Guidelines,” Law360, Oct 20, 2022, https://www.law360.com/articles/1541882/public-s-m-a-comments-hold-clues-for-agency-guidelines
 Leah Nylen and Michelle F. Davis, “US Antitrust Enforcers Are Chilling Big Mergers,” Bloomberg, May 10, 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-05-10/m-a-deal-pace-slows-as-biden-administration-cracks-down-on-antitrust.