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The Presidential memo to scuttle preemption

President Obama's memo to the Executive Branch on preemption is online at the White House here.

The purpose of this memorandum is to state the general policy of my Administration 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. Executive departments and agencies should be mindful that in our Federal system, the citizens of the several States have distinctive circumstances and values, and that in many instances it is appropriate for them to apply to themselves rules and principles that reflect these circumstances and values. As Justice Brandeis explained more than 70 years ago, "[i]t is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country."

The American Association for Justice issued a joyful noise news release, "Obama Memo on Complete Immunity Preemption Makes Clear Rule of Law Prevails Over Rule of Politics." The Medical Device Safety Act gets a new push in Congress, to say the least. (Earlier post.)

UPDATE (10 a.m.) On Tuesday President Obama became the nation's No. 1 promoter of national standards as a way to end lawsuits (in this case, vehicle emissions). On Wednesday, he undermines national standards and invites lawsuits through a presidential memo. Pragmatism, apparently.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.