American pro-market conservatives often oppose use of federal authority to rein in anti-competitive behavior by market actors. Competitive barriers, whether created by local jurisdictions or the absence of national competitive rules, go unaddressed. In international comparison, especially considering the European Union's use of central authority for market openness, this is quite puzzling. Based on interviews and archival research, I trace inattention to market barriers to contradictions within Hayek's neoliberalism and an enthusiastic reception within the American academy of one possible interpretation of those writings. This conception of markets—competitive federalism—diffused into the conservative law and economics movements, think tanks, and eventually mainstream conservative politics. It permitted conservatism to align a strong pro-market rhetoric with demands for states’ rights and federal retrenchment, albeit side-stepping many significant issues in economic theory and policy. Thus, conservatives pursue spending and tax cuts, deregulation and decentralization, often to the detriment of market openness.