Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CPSIA - Turns Out that the Government CAN Assert Preemption

And you thought state regulation of children's products was a fait accompli, nothing we can do about it. The proliferation of state safety regulations is a major hindrance to interstate commerce and puts small and medium-sized businesses in a very risky position. Who can possibly master the federal system of safety laws and regulations plus 38 states' own unique versions (plus the EU, plus Canada, plus Japan, plus . . . plus . . . plus)? No one.

The CPSIA addressed this mess by ENCOURAGING IT. The law does not preempt a variety of state laws relating to the safety of children's products. Among the notable laws so exempted, California's Proposition 65 is especially troubling. That said, I cannot recall a single word of a single state children's product safety law that has been preempted by the federal government. It's the Wild West out there.

Worse yet, this subject is among the many that are "off limits". In other words, we are advised to keep our opinions on preemption to ourselves for risk of "offending" the controlling Democratic party. The non-preemption of state laws that conflict with the CPSIA, CPSA and policy and regulations of the CPSC are to be tolerated, I guess. We have no say in this. Like so many things nowadays . . . .

Aha, but when the liberals don't like the action of the states, well then preemption is apparently a viable option. So today the federal government decided to take action against the Arizona immigration law. [I am a minority and am generally fearful of government rules that encroach on protections for minorities. Of course, like most of the media and America at large, I haven't read the Arizona law. So while I am directionally in favor of knocking it out, I freely admit I don't know much about this controversy other than the things I have gleaned from other people's analysis.] So I guess preemption is a viable option . . . if the motivation is there.

The federal complaint makes many compelling assertions about the value and importance of preemption in the case of immigration law . . . and many of these assertions could just as easily be levied against state regulation of children's products. It will never happen, of course, because that might offend the "public interest groups" behind the CPSIA. Besides, who can trust companies anyhow . . . .

Some pertinent quotes (emphasis added):

"In our constitutional system, the federal government has preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters. This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. . . . The Constitution and the federal immigration laws do not permit the development of a patchwork of state and local immigration policies throughout the country."

"The federal government, moreover, welcomes cooperative efforts by states and localities to aid in the enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws. But the United States Constitution forbids Arizona from supplanting the federal government’s immigration regime with its own state-specific immigration policy – a policy that, in purpose and effect, interferes with the numerous interests the federal government must balance when enforcing and administering the immigration laws and disrupts the balance actually established by the federal government."

"In crafting federal immigration law and policy, Congress has necessarily taken into account multiple and often competing national interests. . . . The laws also take into account other uniquely national interests, including facilitating trade and commerce . . . ."

"Because S.B. 1070, in both its singularly stated purpose and necessary operation, conflicts with the federal government’s balance of competing objectives in the enforcement of the federal immigration laws, its passage already has had foreign policy implications for U.S. diplomatic relations with other countries, including Mexico and many others. S.B. 1070 has also had foreign policy implications concerning specific national interests regarding national security, drug enforcement, tourism, trade, and a variety of other issues. . . . Numerous other states are contemplating passing legislation similar to S.B. 1070."

The Feds have noted that the patchwork of local laws would likely prove highly disruptive to efforts to coordinate a national policy on this topic. They are apparently fearful that the Arizona law will lead to many more just like it in other states. Among other reasons to fear the new immigration laws, local laws can have international implications and can hurt trade. I think I know what they are getting at . . . . Consider the market effects of the noxious Proposition 65 and the truly awful and frightening Green Chemistry initiative oozing forth from California in our direction. The case for this preemption lawsuit is eerily similar to the case for preemption of local safety laws. Unfortunately, we will never get this help unless the Feds decide that the system is so out-of-whack that a lawsuit must be filed. With Dems in charge of Congress who are the blood brothers of consumer groups, this will NEVER happen. Too bad for us.

I feel the federal government's pain on the Arizona law. Too bad they don't feel mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The difference between the two situations is: California's Prop 65 can be stricter than the Federal law on those topics, because the states and the Feds have *concurrent* jurisdiction over that area of law, meaning both have the right to make and enforce laws on those topics. In contrast, immigration is an area in which the Feds have *sole* jurisdiction under the Constitution, preventing the states from, for example, sending their own ambassadors abroad or entering into treaties with foreign nations. To accommodate this difference, the Arizona immigration law is crafted to fit *within* and to support the Federal laws and powers -- and not to exceed them. The Feds are miffed because they don't want to enforce the law, but it is still the law, so Arizona has the right to fit right up against the Federal law, even if the Feds refuse to enforce Federal law as written. So Arizona called the Feds' bluff, and the Feds ain't happy. If the Feds don't want to enforce the law as written, then Congress should take a vote on changing the law, and the Senators and Reps would face the music back home at election time. But of course, that's what they're trying to avoid doing. Weaseling is the game plan instead.

Great blog. Keep it up, and enjoy your vacation -- you've earned it.