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Tobacco Tops Supreme Court's Upcoming Business Cases

The U.S. Supreme Court opens its new term Oct. 4 with a dozen business-oriented disputes among the cases slated for argument. Among those cases -- which cover regulation, arbitration, corporate governance, federal-preemption, and free speech -- two stand out. The term's "blockbuster" case will be FDA v Brown & Williamson Tobacco Co., judges Roy T. Englert Jr., a partner in the Washington, D.C.-based law firm of Mayer Brown & Platt. The core question in the case, which probably will be argued in December, is whether the federal FDA has the power to regulate the labeling, marketing, and the sale or distribution of tobacco products to minors. Conflicts between commercial speech and privacy are the issue in Los Angeles Police Dept. v United Reporting Publishing Corp., a case scheduled for argument on Oct. 13. Particularly with increased Internet usage, expect to see more such cases involving restrictions on commercial use of public records cross from print to cyberspace, advises Clifford M. Sloan, a partner at Wiley, Rein & Fielding, Washington, D.C.

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