Quiz 6: Administrative Agencies


Before enacting any new regulation, agencies have to go through promulgation and public comment process, which includes research and public review and response to those rules. However, following the terrorist attacks of September 11 th the government needed to make timely decisions on regulation which affected security hence it gave the FAA authority to make rules to add on to security.

FDA (Food and Drug Administration) passed a law which mandated the tobacco companies to picture one of the 12 labels proposed by the FDA and the health and human services (HHS) that covers 50 percent of the package label and 20 percent of all ads. The labels include messages which depict the negative and harmful effects of smoking. FDA published its final rules after collecting the comments of 1700 people. The tobacco companies challenged the FDA that their first amendment rights were violated by the rules that forces them to speak in a way using government mandated materials. According to the first amendment it is said that congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, promoting a specific religion, or reducing the freedom of speech and expression of an individual, freedom of expression and to petition against the government for a grievance and the implied rights of association and belief. In the above case the FDA has claimed that the rule will discourage smokers to quit and non-smokers from initiating the interest and has a substantial government interest. However, the tobacco companies can challenge the FDA by stating that the rule violates their freedom of speech to content under first amendment rights. Also there is no clear evidence and studies did not support that the graphic warning message will have an impact on the people and led to a reduction in smokers. Thus, the rules fail to serve the FDA's substantial interest and FDA is using its force to compelled commercial speech. The rules can be set aside as they are found to be violating the freedom of speech rights under first amendment.

Case Facts: The TPC Health Department established a set of rules for ambulatory care after investigation of the ambulance services in the county. The local news requested information from the health department regarding its investigation. The health department refused to disclose the requested information claiming exemption from public disclosure act through protecting privacy and need for effective investigation. The news channel filed a complaint to court. Under FOIA, Exemption 6 and 7(F) states that information that would invade someone else's personal privacy or endanger their physical safety should not be disclosed to the public. When the news channel asked for the details of the investigation and the sources of the health department, the department refused to share the names of their sources and names of the ambulance companies. The health department claimed that all requested info was exempt from disclosure, the court disagreed. Only the names and identifying features of people in the documents should be kept confidential. Thus, the names are subject to Freedom of Information A ct as disclosing them would endanger the personal safety and privacy of the sources.

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