Understanding Preemption

Understanding Preemption

A fact sheet series about preemption and policy

The legal term preemption may have little resonance outside of courts and legislative chambers. But what it describes — the invalidation of state law by federal law, or local law by state law — has profound significance for public health.

Preemption affects everything from the quality of medical devices to the extent of tobacco advertising, from the presence of air bags in cars to the disclosure of ingredients in pesticides. In other words, preemption affects just about everything a public health professional does.

ChangeLab Solutions, in partnership with the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law, has developed a series of fact sheets on preemption. You can download all four below.

  • Fundamentals of Preemption explains what the legal concept of preemption means and how to spot it in a proposed law.
  • The Consequences of Preemption for Public Health Advocacy helps policymakers and advocates consider whether the benefits of a new policy creating a “one-size-fits-all” standard outweigh the benefits of state and local control.
  • Negotiating Preemption offers guidelines for policymakers and advocates as new policies are drafted and make their way through the legislative process.
  • Preemption by Any Other Name identifies different words and phrases that could indicate “preemptive intent” in a proposed policy.

For a more thorough analysis of the impact preemption can have on public health policy, see ChangeLab Solutions' Preemption: What It Is, How It Works, and Why It Matters for Public Health.