Crosby V. NFTC Case Study

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Crosby v. NFTC
530 U.S. 363 (2000)
Facts
A case involving state and federal policies with the same objective. In 1996 Massachusetts passed a law banning state entities from purchasing or selling goods or services from companies conducting business with Burma. Congress subsequently passed a statue imposing conditional and mandatory sanctions on Burma. The act also allowed the president to impose further sanctions subject to certain conditions. In 1997, President Clinton issued and executive order certifying that the government of Burma committed large-scaled repression of the democratic process and the government’s actions constituted threats considered to be national emergencies. Congress followed, imposing mandatory sanctions on Burma. The National Foreign Trade Council, who represented companies engaged in forging commerce, brought a federal suit against Massachusetts. The district court held that the state law unconstitutionally interfered with the federal government’s authority to regulate foreign affairs and the Court of Appeals Affirmed. When the Supreme Court agreed to take this case,
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Holding
Yes. 9-0 in favor of the NFTC. Justice Souter wrote the unanimous opinion.

Reasoning
1. Congress has the power to preempt state law. Even without express preemption, state law must yield to congressional acts. The Massachusetts Burma law interferes with and undermines the intended purpose of the federal act. The Massachusetts act would impose a different state system of economic pressure against Burma.
2. The state act penalizes individuals and conduct that Congress has explicitly exempted or excluded from sanctions. The act also conflicts with the president’s intended authority to speak for the United States and in his capacity for effective diplomacy.
3. The state act is preempted, and is unconstitutional. The judgment for the First Circuit of Appeals is

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