Preemption: Not a Blunderbuss
Yes, a posting not related to the financial crisis!
However, it is about preemption, that most important, but possibly dullest of all product safety issues.
Preemption refers to having federal regulations trump state ones, including stronger state ones.
The trial lawyers issued a report Wednesday on what it describes as the Bush Administration's systematic attempts to impose preemption on the world through executive fiat, either by filing amicus briefs on behalf of drug companies fighting product liability suits, or by inserting preemption language into numerous federal regulations by including it in the preamble. One example is the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's roof crush rule.
The trial lawyers report is based on documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. The documents they got, including e-mail exchanges from officials with the Office of Management and Budget, didn't strike me as any sort of smoking guns. (We'll get to blunderbusses in a second.) Perhaps more illuminating were public comments made by a former political appointee at FDA. He said inserting the preemption language in the preamble was "not a blunderbuss" and "more of a rifle shot."
The courts haven't ruled conclusively in favor of the position that preemption language when stuck onto regulations, carry the force of law. But consumer advocates view adding preemption to the preamble of regs as another tactic by pro-business forces to fight tougher state regulations.
You can see the report for yourself here. In the meantime, watch where you point those blunderbusses.
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