Professor Cass Sunstein argues that the FDA has the authority to regulate tobacco products. He considers the text of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which supports the FDA assertion, and the context of its enactment, which argues against the FDA. He resolves the tension between text and context in favor of FDA jurisdiction by turning to the emerging role of administrative agencies. In modern government, he contends, administrative agencies have become America's common law courts, with the power to adapt statutory regimes to new facts and new values when the underlying statute is ambiguous. Professor Sunstein's Article, like the other pieces in this volume, was written after the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina decided Coyne Beahm v. FDA, but before a three judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed that decision in Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. v. FDA. In Coyne Beahm, the District Court held that the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act authorized the FDA to regulate tobacco products, but not tobacco advertising. The Fourth Circuit rejected the District Court's jurisdictional ruling and invalidated the FDA's regulations in their entirety. The Clinton Administration has since requested an en banc rehearing before the Fourth Circuit.
Cass R. Sunstein,
Is Tobacco a Drug? Administrative Agencies as Common Law Courts,
47 Duke Law Journal
Available at: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/dlj/vol47/iss6/1