The First Amendment v. Cancer

Yesterday DC Federal Judge Leon struck down the FDA rule, authorized by Congress, requiring stronger warnings on cigarette packages. In so ruling, the court reasoned that the new labeling requirement violates Big Tobacco’s freedom of speech. According to the court, because tobacco is a legal product, the proposed image warnings on cigarette packages were too strong. Are you kidding me? On the same day, the US Supreme Court ruled that asbestos companies could not be held liable for failure to warn because the asbestos was allowed to be used by the federal government on railroad cars. Taken together these two rulings are ominous for their implications. Reading decisions like this that give corporations the right to sell dangerous products without adequate warnings coupled with holdings like Citizen’s United is scary stuff. Are these courts really implying that so long as products are sold legally on the open market, the manufacturers should be protected no matter how many people are killed and no matter what the manufacturer knew about the product’s ability to injure and kill? That is not the law and for good reason.  Decisions like those handed down in the nation’s capitol yesterday that place the rights of corporations over those of individual citizens are not good for America.