District Court Rules in Favor of NFTC-- Finds Massachusetts Burma Law Unconstitutional

Wednesday, 4 November 1998

The ruling in National Foreign Trade Council v. Baker, stated that "... the court finds that the Massachusetts Burma Law impermissibly infringes on the federal government's power to regulate foreign affairs." ..."State interests, no matter how noble, do not trump the federal government's exclusive foreign affairs power."

"Chief Judge Tauro's ruling rests on clear constitutional grounds, and should significantly deter states and cities from imposing their own foreign policy sanctions," said Frank Kittredge, President of the National Foreign Trade Council, the suit's plaintiff.

"The constitutional problems created by the Massachusetts Burma Law are serious, and the proliferation of similar laws in states and cities throughout the country creates a problem not only for business, but for the ability of the United States to conduct a coherent foreign policy," Kittredge continued. "We share concerns over reported human rights abuses in Burma, however, our system of government was not designed to allow the fifty states and hundreds of municipalities to conduct their own individual foreign policies."

The NFTC has, for most of this century, represented the interests of hundreds of companies in free international trade. NFTC filed the Massachusetts case on behalf of its 580 members because the law establishes a "restricted purchase list" which currently includes over 30 of the NFTC's member companies -- preventing these companies from competing on an equal basis for contracts with Massachusetts state agencies unless these companies cease doing business in Burma.


Contact: Eric Thomas 202/822-9491


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