© 2009 The Medical-Legal News
WASHINGTON, May 20 (UPI) — Federal departments and agencies announcing regulations that preempt state laws will not do so without a sufficient legal basis, U.S. President Barack Obama has said.
Obama has thus reversed many of the policies of former President Bush in the area of preemption.
In a memorandum distributed to the heads of executive departments and agencies in mid-May, Obama said, “(The) general policy of my administration (is) that preemption of state law by executive departments and agencies should be undertaken only with full consideration of the legitimate prerogatives of the states and with a sufficient legal basis for preemption.”
Obama said federal officials need to remember that state residents have distinctive circumstances and values and that it is appropriate, in many instances, for states to apply rules and principles that reflect the circumstances and values.
During recent years, however, executive departments and agencies have sometimes announced that their regulations preempt state law, including state common law, without explicit permission for preemption by Congress or an otherwise sufficient basis under applicable legal principles.
The Supreme Court’s recent Wyeth v. Levine case was of a similar anti-preemption tenor to the Obama policy reversal.
Among other things, Obama said heads of departments and agencies should not include in regulatory preambles any statement that the department or agency intends to preempt state law or regulations, except where preemption provisions are included in the codified laws.
According to The Boston Globe, during the Bush administration, more than 50 federal regulations were proposed or adopted that included language to limit state lawsuits.
The Globe also reported that Les Weisbrod, president of the American Association for Justice, a national trial lawyers group, said that the Obama administration has “overturned actions taken by Bush administration bureaucrats who were influenced by powerful, well-connected corporations.”
The paper also noted that consumer groups were happy with the recent preemption reversals.
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