Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was the keynote speaker at last night’s Competitive Enterprise Institute gala. The subject of Kozinski’s talk was antitrust law, but the libertarian jurist skewered many a target a long the way.
“There is no problem that can’t be made more complicated by handing it over to economists,” Kozinski said. But he wasn’t much kinder to his fellow judges: “Ignorance has never stopped a federal judge from expressing an opinion on any topic.” Kozinski remarked that the noted judicial philosopher Learned Hand “was very knowledgeable about everything except how the world works.
This lack of familiarity with how the world works informs a lot of antitrust jurisprudence to this day, Kozinski argued. “The more heavily the government regulates the market, the more competition is impeded,” he said, contending that exercising monopoly power in today’s economy is “about as easy as holding a greasy pig.” Kozinski closed with a rousing rendition of “Strangers in the Night” (yes, he has a nice singing voice).
Only at a CEI function can one find an entertaining discussion of antitrust law.
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