October 6, 2008

It's the first Monday in October. Can we pay some attention to the Supreme Court?

SCOTUSblog, as always, will be paying attention. In fact, they'll be live-blogging the release of the orders list here, and here are short descriptions of the 3 cases that are up for oral argument this morning. The most interesting one is Altria Group v. Good, a nice federalism/preemption case about suing cigarette manufacturers for those devious "light" cigarettes. (They measure low in tar and nicotine according to the standardized tests, but real-life smokers compensate by pulling harder and longer.)

The Bloomberg report provides the details. The suit is based on a state law fraud claim, and the Supreme Court said -- in a fractured 1992 case, Cipollone -- that such claims we not preempted by the federal cigarette labeling laws. And there is also the argument that the suits are preempted by the Federal Trade Commission standards for measuring the tar and nicotine in cigarettes:
That argument may be a tough sell. U.S. Solicitor General Gregory Garre, the Bush administration's top courtroom lawyer, is urging the court to reject it, saying state-law suits are
"complementary'' to the FTC's efforts to regulate cigarette advertising.

"It's not easy to argue that state tort law frustrates the purpose of a federal regulatory regime when the federal regulators are there saying, "No, it doesn't,'' said Paul Clement, Garre's predecessor as solicitor general. Clement stepped down in June, three weeks before the administration filed its brief siding with consumers.

Philip Morris says the administration's stance is a self-serving effort to bolster the Justice Department's own tobacco suit, which accuses cigarette makers of violating a federal racketeering law by marketing low-tar cigarettes as safer alternatives.


SGT Ted said...

This is just a money grab by lawyers. They got billions before sueing a legal product that does what everyone knew even before labeling. Why should they quit milking that cash cow?

They certainly won't outlaw it, there'd be no money in that.

Dan said...

Arizona is now allowing "choose-life" liscense plates. Here we go folks... the slow degernation of American intelligence is being corrupted by stupidity and religion. When religion is taught in schools with Creationism, then our country will slip into a slippery slope of perpetual degeneration where stupid people have more children then intelligent ones. Darwinian law will prevail. See the movie "Idiocracy."

alank said...

real-life smokers compensate by pulling harder and longer

Fat people who 'light' snacks compensate by eating more. Does that mean we can sue Frito-Lay?

Chip Ahoy said...

the slow degernation of American intelligence is being corrupted by stupidity and religion

Yes, dan, yes. If only our schools would teach spelling then I'd be able to tell if you intended "degradation" or "degeneration". And had you taken a logic course you'd have learned that "slippery slope" is the name for a logical fallacy, post hoc ergo propter hoc, because it does not follow that displaying a choose life license plate leads directly to teaching religion in schools. And I dare say, women who chose not to have an abortion aren't necessarily all grouped within the religious Right.

But, dan, you error is worse than your own poor education. You see, this post is about today being Monday and Althouse is calling attention to the Supreme Court's first case up for argument in which the one about cigarettes is the most interesting, and not about the bug up your bum about people of faith or the bugbears in your mind about the future of education.

mccullough said...

Federal pre-emption is the toughest area of law. It affects a variety of different legal practices so most lawyers have to know something about it.

The legal standards are known but applying them is very hard, which is why the Supreme Court keeps taking more and more of these cases.

They also offer an interesting line-up of the justices in majority those in dissent.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

This post is up 6 hours and gets only five comments? And you, a [sometimes] law blogger!

Trooper York said...

No one respects the legal inquisition.

Ann Althouse said...

This goes to the issue of the supposed deficiency of law blogs.