NCLA Calls Out CPSC for Hiding Infant Bath Seat Safety Standards Behind a Paywall

Revisions to Safety Standard for Infant Bath Seats, 84 Fed. Reg. 49435

Washington, D.C., Oct. 21, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The New Civil Liberties Alliance has submitted a public comment opposing the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s proposed regulation, Revisions to Safety Standard for Infant Bath Seats, on the basic premise that the law must be freely accessible to everyone.

NCLA believes the proposed rule violates due process and continues an odious trend of federal agencies incorporating private standards into the law only by reference, which makes it difficult for folks who have to comply to obtain access to the law’s requirements. Instead of informing members of the public of their precise legal obligations, CPSC proposes that anyone seeking access to the contents of the law must either purchase a copy of the law from a private organization at a cost of $56.00 or make the trip to Bethesda, MD, for the right to simply see (but not copy) the law in the agency’s reading room.

But a fundamental principle in our legal system is that laws that bind persons or entities must give fair notice of conduct that is forbidden or required so that regulated parties may conform their conduct to the law in advance and thereby avoid its sanctions. This proposed rule provides neither fair notice nor due process.

“Making the law inaccessible is a notorious trick of tyrants. Due process requires that everyone have notice of their legal obligations. But CPSC, like many federal agencies, continues to hide the law behind a paywall simply because it is easier for the agency. It’s time for this lawless practice to end. ”
Caleb Kruckenberg, Litigation Counsel, New Civil Liberties Alliance

“As a former CPSC staffer, I learned firsthand about nonpublic laws and have objected to them from day one. Notice is a fundamental aspect of the rule of law. CPSC may point to a statute it implements as the culprit here, but NCLA does not believe the practice of secret law will survive a court challenge.”
Mark Chenoweth, Executive Director and General Counsel, New Civil Liberties Alliance


NCLA is a nonprofit civil rights organization founded by prominent legal scholar Philip Hamburger to protect constitutional freedoms from violations by the Administrative State. NCLA’s public-interest litigation and other pro bono advocacy strive to tame the unlawful power of state and federal agencies and to foster a new civil liberties movement that will help restore Americans’ fundamental rights.

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