The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter Friday to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions calling for a full Senate confirmation hearing on the nomination of David Michaels to head the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The gist:
Professor Michaels is a high profile advocate for more regulations, even when the science and data that is available to support such regulations may be inadequate or uncertain. He has also attacked the landmark, unanimous Supreme Court decision in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals which stands for the proposition that scientific evidence in litigation must meet certain standards to be admitted. He has also been the beneficiary of product liability actions which have been shown to be without merit. Finally, nominees for this position are normally subject to a hearing before they are confirmed and Professor Michaels should be no exception.
The letter raises substantive objections to Michaels' record under the rubric, "Professor Michaels' Views on the Use of Science Do Not Tolerate Debate," noting Michaels' misrepresentation of science on President Clinton's proposed ergonomics rule:
Instead of acknowledging that the scientific and medical record relied upon for this regulation left many questions necessary to issue a regulation unanswered, such as what level of exposures are associated with injuries, or what would be appropriate remedial measures, he described the science as settled and the efforts by business advocates to raise concerns about the science as nothing more than a delaying tactic.
Michaels' attacks against Daubert have been been discussed in previous posts at Point of Law, but this is the first time we've seen the ergonomics issue elevated as a point of discussion on Michaels' nomination.
It's a good, meaty letter representing serious concerns of the business community about the nominee. Michaels' defenders, meanwhile, continue to dismiss criticisms as "growing smear" -- as per Carl Pope of the Sierra Club, whose defense of Michaels is a pure appeal to authority.