Cicilline Calls on DOJ’s Antitrust Division to Do Its Job

May 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman David N. Cicilline, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee, sent a letter raising concerns with the Justice Department’s growing use of its amicus program to stack the deck against antitrust enforcement.


“America is in a monopoly crisis,” Cicilline said. “But instead of actually doing its job to enforce the antitrust laws­ by bringing cases to challenge anticompetitive conduct and mergers, the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division has weaponized its advocacy program to help monopolists and undermine robust enforcement. This includes jeopardizing the economic liberty of hardworking Americans by filing hostile briefs in cases involving no-poach agreements—a criminally anticompetitive practice by employers—as well as voluntarily filing a brief in at least one case where Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim has a clear conflict of interest.”


The Antitrust Division has significantly increased the number of statements of interest and amicus briefs it is filing in cases where the United States is not a party. In several of these cases, the Division’s decision to intervene has risked undermining enforcement efforts by state attorneys general and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This includes filing a brief in the multi-year lawsuit between the FTC and Qualcomm, a company that Assistant Attorney General Delrahim represented in private practice before joining the Antitrust Division. The Division’s activity in this area stands in stark contrast with its low enforcement activity.


“Not only has the Antitrust Division stonewalled congressional oversight, but now it’s beginning to look more like an industry funded think tank than our nation’s premier antitrust enforcer,” Cicilline added. “It’s increasingly clear that the Congress needs to reconsider how Congress allocates the Division’s budget and step in before the Antitrust Division inflicts further damage.”


In addition to raising concerns about the Division’s use of its amicus program, the letter requested additional information on whether the Division has consulted with outside parties before filing briefs in cases, how many attorney hours have been spent on this activity, and what effect the amicus program has had on the Division’s mission to enforce the antitrust laws.