Attorney general nominee Merrick Garland is hoping to install his former aide, Susan Davies, as head of antitrust at the Justice Department, three sources told The American Prospect.
Davies served under Garland when he was a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Garland was appointed to the post by Bill Clinton in 1997.
Davies spent most of the last 10 years working as an attorney on behalf of major mergers and helping clients avoid antitrust enforcement. According to her law firm bio, she frequently interacted with regulators and policymakers on behalf of corporate clients.
One of those clients was Facebook. Davies represented the social network in a lawsuit brought by an advertiser who was kicked off the platform “after the tech giant lured away all its clients and banned users from downloading it,” The American Prospect reported in an article co-published with The Intercept.
The Federal Trade Commission launched an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook in December, looking to break it up and ban it from engaging in the type of anti-competitive behavior Davies helped it defend.
Reports that Garland wants Davies to head the Antitrust Division at the Department of Justice got a lot of attention on Twitter.
“A Fortune 100 defense lawyer who defended Facebook and has spent her career embedding herself in the big law defense mindset would be a political disaster and just a terrible idea for such a critical role,” wrote Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor whose Twitter profile says she is “Anticorruption, anti-monopolist, pro-labor.”
“I like my anticorruption lawyers to have experience winning anticorruption cases and antitrust lawyers having experience crafting big cases visa corporate monopolies,” Teachout continued. “Is it too much to ask that we get an Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust who has a public record of sharing a big vision for enforcing the law against corporate monopolies and hasn’t defended big tech?”
Not everyone on Twitter thought it was a terrible idea choosing Davis to defend the American people against Facebook. Lady Elaine tweeted, “Maybe she hated them and that’s why she quit. Could work to the government’s advantage.”
“fox/henhouse – and the farmer knows the fox is a fox,” another replied.
Senate Democrats are pushing to confirm Biden’s nominees for top Justice Department positions ahead of the queue, Politico reported.
Reports of a potential Davies pick drew some attention to Garland on social media, and not in a good way.
“I wish people understood how awful Merrick Garland actions are to the weakest member of society #UnfitForOffice #Bias,” a law student tweeted in a post with a link to a Color Of Law Center article opposing Garland’s nomination.
Color of Law Center is a Newark-based nonprofit that seeks justice for the most vulnerable Americans.
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During his tenure as chief judge in the District of Columbia, Garland dismissed judicial misconduct complaints by African Americans who claimed they had been discriminated against, according to Phylicia D.C. Pearson, general counsel for the Color of Law Center.
“Garland dismissed each complaint citing that there was no pattern of discrimination, despite the complaints alleging similar conduct by the same judge (Judge Richard Leon) aimed at the same group of people (African Americans),” Pearson wrote. “These complaints established over-arching similarities which demonstrated the exact definition of a pattern.”
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