FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.

FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.

Litigants=FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.
ArgueDate=December 1
DecideDate=March 21
FullName=Food and Drug Administration, et al. v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., et al.
JoinMajority=Rehnquist, Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas
JoinDissent=Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg

FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., ussc|529|120|2000 is an important case in the development of American administrative law.

Legal principle

The scope of authority held by an agency is determined by the agency's organic statute (USA). Where Congress repeatedly denies an agency the power to regulate a particular area, and develops a comprehensive regulatory scheme outside the control of the agency, the agency may not regulate that area.

Note: The approach in this case balances the approach of "US v. Southwestern Cable Co.". Whereas "Southwestern Cable" allowed an agency to regulate areas not explicitly contemplated by the statute when necessary to fulfill its ultimate goal even when legislative efforts to gain such power failed, "FDA" does not allow agencies to regulate areas for which Congress has developed a separate statutory scheme.

Facts and procedural posture

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) attempted to regulate tobacco products. Tobacco companies challenged the regulations. The District Court granted in part and denied in part the plaintiff's claim. The Circuit Court reversed, ruling for the tobacco company.

The Supreme Court ultimately affirmed the Circuit Court's ruling for the tobacco company, ruling that the FDA did not have the power to enact and enforce the regulations in question.


The FDA's authority to regulate came from the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). The FDA argued that tobacco was a drug within the meaning of the FDCA. Congress had enacted a number of tobacco-specific laws after the FDCA, and the FDA had never exercised any control over tobacco. The Court therefore concluded that Congress did not intend to give the FDA the power to regulate tobacco, and that the regulations were therefore invalid.

ee also

* List of United States Supreme Court cases, volume 529
* Y1 (tobacco)

External links

* [http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/98-1152.ZS.html Cornell University Law School - FDA V. BROWN & WILLIAMSON TOBACCO CORP.]


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