Justice O'Connor's Tobacco RulingsAuthor: Ed Sweda
Justice O'Connor joined Justice Stevens' majority opinion in Cipollone v. Liggett Group, 112 S.Ct. 2608 (1992), allowing most product liability claims against cigarette manufacturers to proceed.
She joined Justice White's majority opinion in Helling v. McKinney, 113 S.Ct. 2475 (1993), allowing a claim that forcing a nonsmoking prisoner to breathe secondhand smoke could, under certain circumstances, constitute cruel and unusual punishment, which is barred by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to proceed.
She authored the majority opinion in FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., 120 S.Ct. 1291 (2000), ruling that Congress had clearly precluded the FDA from asserting jurisdiction over tobacco products.
She also authored the majority opinion in Lorillard v. Reilly, 121 S.Ct. (2001), ruling that 1) a Massachusetts regulation on outdoor and point-of-sale advertising of cigarettes were preempted by the Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act; 2) Mass. regulations on outdoor advertising of smokeless tobacco and cigars were invalid under the First Amendment; and 3) Mass. regulations on point-of-sale advertising of smokeless tobacco and cigars were invalid under the First Amendment.