State laws preempted in three areas
The Supreme Court, in the first of several decisions Wednesday, ruled that federal law bars states from controlling the commercial delivery of tobacco or other products harmful to children. There were no dissents as the Court decided Rowe v. New Hampshire Motor Transport Association (06-457). Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote the main opinion.
In a second decision on federal preemption, in Preston v. Ferrer (06-1463), the Court ruled 8-1 that federal law prevents the referral of a dispute that the parties agreed to arbitrate to an initial review by an administrative agency under state law. Just as state laws that divert an arbitral dispute to an initial court review are preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act, so are laws that set up an administrative review first, the Court said in an opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Only Justice Clarence Thomas dissented.
Continuing with preemption rulings, the Court’s third decision of the day declared that the Food and Drug Administration’s pre-market approval of the safety and effectiveness of a medical device bars all state court damage lawsuits by those injured from such a device. Again, the vote was 8-1, with Justice Ginsburg dissenting alone. Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the Court’s opinion in Riegel v. Medtronic (07-179).
In LaRue v. DeWolff, Boberg (06-856), the Court ruled that an individual taking part in a retirement plan covered by ERISA has a right to recover money losses in his or her pension account because of the fault of plan managers or administrators. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the main opinion; there were no dissents.