The military regime of the country of Myanmar (previously called Burma) has been accused of major civil rights violations, including using forced and child labor, imprisoning and torturing political opponents, and harshly repressing ethnic minorities. These inhumane actions have been condemned by human rights organizations around the world. The state legislators of the state of Massachusetts were so appalled at these actions that they enacted a state statute banning the state government from purchasing goods and services from any company that did business with Myanmar.
In the meantime, the U. S. Congress enacted a federal statute that delegated power to the president of the United States to regulate U. S. dealings with Myanmar. The federal statute (1) banned all aid to the government of Myanmar except for humanitarian assistance, (2) authorized the president to impose economic sanctions against Myanmar, and (3) authorized the president to develop a comprehensive multilateral strategy to bring democracy to Myanmar.
The National Foreign Trade Council— a powerful Washington DC– based trade association with more than 500 member companies— filed a lawsuit against Massachusetts to have the state law declared unconstitutional. The council argued that the Massachusetts “ anti Myanmar” statute conflicted with the federal statute and that under the Supremacy Clause that makes federal law the “ supreme law of the land” the state statute was preempted by the federal statute. Does the Massachusetts anti Myanmar statute violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution? Crosby, Secretary of Administration and Finance of Massachusetts v. National Foreign Trade Council, 530 U. S. 363, 120 S. Ct. 2288, 2000 U. S. Lexis 4153 (Supreme Court of the United States, 2000)