BREAKING NEWS: In 5-4 ruling, Supreme Court rejects federal preemption argument in “light cigarette” litigation, suggesting that preemption may not fly in pending Wyeth matter

Seal-USSC100 In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court held that neither the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act's pre-emption provision nor the Federal Trade Commission's actions in this field pre-empt plaintiffs’ state-law fraud claim related to “light cigarette” advertisements. The plurality, comparing and contrasting with Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc., 505 U. S. 504 (1992), determined that the alleged duty not to deceive was unrelated to the Labeling Act’s regulation of “smoking and health” information. (Slip op., at pp. 5-20.)

The mass media has extensive coverage of this decision. For general media coverage of this ruling, see, for example, The New York Times, FoxNews and Forbes.

One interesting theme, missed by much of the general media coverage, is whether this opinion offers any guidance as to how the Supreme Court will determine the preemption issue in Wyeth. If nothing else, this decision suggests that the current Supreme Court does not have a specific preemption agenda that has yet revealed itself. The law and fact-specific analysis of the Labeling Act makes any comparison with Wyeth somewhat challenging.

Stevens, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Roberts, C. J., and Scalia and Alito, JJ., joined.

You can review the opinion here:

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