Federal Preemption: States’ Powers, National Interests

When does federal law trump state law? The arcane topic of federal preemption has become the stuff of public debate and major news stories. The partisan lines are clearly drawn. On one side, consumer advocates, plaintiffs’ attorneys, and state officials argue that broad federal preemption claims interfere with the states’ historic police power to protect their citizens against corporate misconduct. On the other side, corporations and federal agencies maintain that preemption is a vital safeguard against unwarranted and inconsistent state interferences with the national economy and against aggressive trial lawyers and attorneys general.

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