The Supreme Court is Back - Preemption is Front and Center

Oct 7, 2008

The Supreme Court is back in session with a very important case right out of the gate. The media, of course, is spinning Altria Group v. Good as a "tobacco" case; but they would be wise to head the words of Justice Hugo Black, who once explained that Supreme Court cases "affect far more than the immediate parties." This federal preemption case will affect any American business that complies with federal laws and regulations, only to find that it has been unwittingly dragged into a state court for violating conflicting state laws. 

I recently explained to the Christian Science Monitor and other news organizations just how important federal preemption is to the American economy:

"For most businesses, federal preemption is the hot-button issue of the term," says Robin Conrad of the US Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Litigation Center.

"The court finds itself once again in the thick of an explosive national debate over whether, how, and when federal law displaces state law," Ms. Conrad told reporters in a recent briefing.

"For companies trying to compete in a fast-paced global economy, the question comes down to who gets to regulate your business," she said. "Should it be a single set of uniform national rules, or should your business be regulated by 50 attorneys general, thousands of municipalities, and hundreds of disparate jury verdicts?"

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