Everyone understood how much was at stake last year when Senate Democrats eliminated the filibuster for judicial nominations to the federal district courts and courts of appeal. And it didn’t take long for the new “Democratic” majority on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to flex its muscles. In late July, the court reversed course on the balance between the public’s interest in regulation of business practices and the corporate interest in freedom of speech.
In earlier decisions, the court of appeals had struck down graphic warnings for cigarette packs and a requirement that manufacturers disclose whether they produce their goods with minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But the en banc court, in rejecting a challenge to country-of-origin disclosure rules for meat products, concluded that the earlier decisions did not allow sufficient leeway for the government to mandate warnings or other informational disclosures to the public.
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 consumer protection.