Recently, the Obama White House undid a Bush administration pre-emption policy, which used federal health and safety regulations to limit the power of injured consumers to sue companies in state courts. Trial lawyers who file class actions for millions of consumers praised this decision.
This issue of preemption does not solely involve the right to sue. The Bush administration extended preemption laws to include such areas as health, safety, and environmental regulations, along with financial and consumer protections. Also, during his second term, more than fifty federal regulations were adopted or proposed that included language aimed at limiting state lawsuits in a bid to protect industry.
In a memo to department heads, President Obama stated the preemption of state law should be commenced only with full reflection of the legitimate rights of the states. Kenneth Baer, the communications director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, says the White House will no longer use this approach and will instead go back and make it clearer and more defensible under the law.