The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #62901 Message #1672729
Posted By: Amos
19-Feb-06 - 08:25 AM
Thread Name: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
Subject: RE: BS: Popular Views of the Bush Administration
The :A Tims reports on yet another area of stealth lawmaking undercutting individual and state traditional rights vis-a-vis different industries, shielding manufacturers from litigation and state regulation:
..."The surprise move seeking legal protection for automakers is one in a series of recent steps by federal agencies to shield leading industries from state regulation and civil lawsuits on the grounds that they conflict with federal authority.
Some of these efforts are already facing court challenges. However, through arcane regulatory actions and legal opinions, the Bush administration is providing industries with an unprecedented degree of protection at the expense of an individual's right to sue and a state's right to regulate.
In other moves by the administration:
• The highway safety agency, a branch of the Department of Transportation, is backing auto industry efforts to stop California and other states from regulating tailpipe emissions they link to global warming. The agency said last summer that any such rule would be a backdoor attempt by states to encroach on federal authority to set mileage standards, and should be preempted.
• The Justice Department helped industry groups overturn a pollution-control rule in Southern California that would have required cleaner-running buses, garbage trucks and other fleet vehicles.
• The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has repeatedly sided with national banks to fend off enforcement of consumer protection laws passed by California, New York and other states. The agency argued that it had sole authority to regulate national banks, preempting state restrictions.
• The Food and Drug Administration issued a legal opinion last month asserting that FDA-approved labels should give pharmaceutical firms broad immunity from most types of lawsuits. The agency previously had filed briefs seeking dismissal of various cases against drug companies and medical-device manufacturers.
In a letter to President Bush on Thursday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said, "It appears that there may have been an administration-wide directive for agencies … to limit corporate liability through the rule-making process and without the consent of Congress."
Administration officials said the initiatives had not been centrally coordinated.
"Under the constitution, federal laws take priority over inconsistent state laws," said Scott Milburn, spokesman for the White House Office of Management and Budget. "Decisions about … whether particular rules should preempt state laws are made agency by agency and rule by rule."
Preemption initiatives by regulatory agencies have drawn less public attention than controversial legislative moves supported by the White House. With administration support, Congress has restricted class-action suits and banned certain claims against gun makers and vaccine producers.
By embedding similar protections for businesses in regulatory changes, the administration has advanced Bush's repeated pledge to rein in what he calls junk lawsuits."