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Regulatory philosphers, political sideshows and the FTC

You're worried about Cass Sunstein as a regulator? Please, now. Let's look at a more alarming law professor already in the halls of regulatory power.

In April, Chairman Jon Leibowitz of the Federal Trade Commission named David C. Vladeck to be Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. Vladeck came over from Georgetown University, but he's much better known for having spent nearly 30 years with Public Citizen Litigation Group -- an activist, lawsuit-filing group that seeks to expand the power of government at every turn.

Vladeck didn't start at the FTC immediately, giving him time to testify as a Georgetown prof at a May 14 House committee hearing on medical devices and federal preemption. He condemned the Supreme Court's decision in Riegel v. Medtronic, putting his personal views forward even though he had already been named a federal regulator. It was intemperate.

Now that he's at the FTC, we see a desire to accrue regulatory power. At a speech to an ABA gathering at Georgetown Law Center last week, Vladeck said the FTC should "be placed on equal footing with the other consumer protection agencies." From the Blog of the Legal Times:

He said that means the FTC should get expanded civil penalty authority, as well as independent civil litigation authority. Currently, the Department of Justice brings many FTC-related civil cases.

Economic fraud and advertising issues will be priority areas, he said.

Many regulatory expansionists share the goal of an FTC reaching for more power.

The Nation recently made the case for an activist commission, as its new, progressive leadership worked with partners in the Justice Department in the fight against "corporate gigantism." From "The Little Agency that Could":

Recently President Obama's chief antitrust enforcer at the Justice Department, Christine Varney, announced a return to aggressive antitrust enforcement. What was not generally noted by the press was that Varney had previously served as a Democratic FTC commissioner and has a deep commitment to the agency's broad mandate. After decades of Justice Department antitrust chiefs looking down their noses at the FTC's efforts to expand its antimonopoly reach, the agency now has an ally and partner at Justice.

But how do they all stand on animals rights and the Second Amendment? Well, that's not really an issue, is it?

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.