OSHA Nominee Is Anti-Gun Ideologue and Junk Science Peddler

by Hans Bader on August 17, 2009 · 6 comments

in Labor, Legal, Personal Liberty, Precaution & Risk

Obama has nominated David Michaels, an anti-gun activist, to head the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a powerful agency that regulates real and perceived hazards in the workplace. This raises the specter of federal bans on the storage or carrying of firearms in or near workplaces (even though some businessmen in high-crime areas possess guns to protect themselves against armed robbers).

Michaels also has links to wealthy breast implant lawyers, who relied on junk science to drive silicone implants from the market, even though they remained available to consumers in most other Western countries because of their lack of major health risks. (The lawsuits over silicone also harmed patients who need life-saving silicone products like silicone shunts that had nothing to do with breast implants or cosmetic procedures, making them scarcer, less available, and more expensive).

Michaels wants to reverse the Supreme Court’s Daubert decision limiting the use of junk science.

If OSHA succeeds in restricting the storage or possession of guns in workplaces, it may take some time to undo even if a less liberal administration comes to power. For example, in March, a judge blocked a Bush Administration change allowing visitors to national parks to carry concealed weapons, claiming that it might have environmental impacts. A judge could rely on similarly conjectural reasoning to block revisions to OSHA regulations needed to repeal an OSHA ban on people storing their guns in the workplace.

Other Obama appointees, like attorney general Eric Holder, are also big supporters of gun control. (Holder has argued that the Second Amendment does not protect any individual right).

Many (but not all) state constitutions protect the right to possess a firearm. But liberal administrations often seek to use federal workplace laws to try to override rights protected by state constitutions or laws. For example, the Clinton Administration argued that a federal law called Title VII overrode California’s broad equal-protection guarantees, which forbade racial quotas and preferences in government contracting, college admissions, and public employment. This “preemption” argument was rejected by a federal appeals court in Coalition for Economic Equity v. Wilson (1997). (Ironically, liberal lawyers often oppose preemption when it expands individual freedom, like federal curbs on baseless state-court lawsuits. The Obama Administration opposes preemption when it would prevent trial lawyers from bringing lawsuits). By the way, discriminatory racial preferences are included in the health-care “reform” bills backed by the Obama Administration, drawing criticism from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

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