Subscribe Subscribe   Find us on Twitter Follow POL on Twitter  



Why Daubert matters in considering the OSHA nominee

In a single editorial today, "Occupational hazard," The Washington Times provides the most powerful point-by-point argument we've seen against the confirmation of David Michaels to be assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, i.e., the OSHA administrator.

President Obama has made a mantra, even a fetish, of his determination to "restore science to its rightful place." It appears that he means junk science rather than the real thing. The president's nominee to head the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), a virulently anti-business epidemiologist named David Michaels, is one the nation's foremost proponents of allowing junk science to be used in jackpot-justice lawsuits.

The editorial focuses on Michaels' attack against the 1993 Supreme Court ruling in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc, which now permits trial judges to hold hearings to weigh the merit of expert testimony. As the Times writes, "This way, a trial can be protected from being polluted by hired guns who may look and sound impressive enough to sway a jury that has no particular scientific expertise but who actually are peddling bogus theories or trumped-up evidence."

Michaels devotes a chapter of his anti-business book, "Doubt is Their Product," to attacking Daubert, and has elsewhere published papers on the topic.

The editorial notes the many other reasons to oppose Michaels' nomination, including topics covered earlier at Point of Law ("Certitude is his Product") including the activism of the outfit he heads, the Project on Scientific Knowledge and Public Policy at George Washington University (SKAPP), founded with cash thrown off by the silicone breast implant settlement and still serving the purposes of litigation industry.

The editorial also quotes Walter for his observations at Overlawyered.com about Michaels' view that guns represent a public health issue. Second Amendment groups have certainly taken notice of Michaels' nomination, and you can expect their allies in the Senate to do so as well.

While the Times has pulled together a strong argument against Michaels' confirmation, others have been studying his record as well. Lachlan Markay, a contributor at Newsbusters.org, last week wrote an analysis, "'Sound Science' or Conventional Liberalism?," using Michaels' attacks against the plastics hardener, BPA, as case where activism supersedes science. In addition:

So far, the critiques have been found only on the right and free-market advocacy side of the blogosphere and now the print media. It's possible the mainstream media will learn from its dereliction in failing to report on the White House's green-jobs adviser Van Jones and actually do some reporting on Michaels' nomination.

Really, it IS possible.

Related Entries:



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.