Introducing David Orentlicher

Orentlicher-ProfileWe’re excited to introduce David Orentlicher as a regular contributor to Bill of Health.

David is Samuel R. Rosen Professor and co-director of the Hall Center for Law and Health at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, where he specializes in health care law and constitutional law. He also serves as President-elect of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics. A graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard Medical School, he previously has taught as a visiting or adjunct professor at Princeton University, University of Chicago Law School, and Northwestern University Medical School. He also was director of the American Medical Association’s division of medical ethics for 6½ years. For six years, he served in the Indiana House of Representatives and drew on his experiences with partisan conflict in publishing Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive (NYU Press 2013).

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Public Health Trumps Corporate Speech

By David Orentlicher
[Ed Note: Cross-posted at HealthLawProfBlog.]

Reversing its previous deference to corporate speech interests, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit came down in favor of consumer protection in a July 29 decision. In American Meat Institute v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, the court upheld a federal government regulation requiring meat companies to disclose the countries of origin for their products. If your beef comes from Argentina or Canada, you will know that from its label.

More importantly, the court gave the Food and Drug Administration greater freedom to reduce tobacco use in the United States. In explaining its reasoning, the court repudiated the logic of an earlier decision by the court that rejected the FDA’s graphic warnings for cigarette packs. According to the meat labeling opinion, the cigarette warning decision did not allow sufficient leeway for the government to mandate warnings or other informational disclosures to consumers.

Perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court will restore the D.C. Circuit’s previous balance, but for now, the tide has turned in favor of the public’s health.