Senate Confirms Two New Commissioners, Bringing Consumer Product Safety Commission to Full Force

Kelley Drye Client Advisory

On August 7, 2009, the U.S. Senate confirmed Anne M. Northup and Robert S. Adler as new Commissioners of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), following a unanimous voice vote of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee backing the nominees on August 4, 2009. The Senate’s vote concluded a speedy confirmation process for Ms. Northup, a Republican, who was nominated for the Commissioner position by President Obama just over a week before. Obama chose Mr. Adler, a Democrat, in May. The Northup and Adler confirmations marked the end of a fifteen-year period during which the CPSC operated under only three Commissioners.

Anne M. Northup

Ms. Northup is a former U.S. Representative from Kentucky who served in the House for ten years. A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Ms. Northup focused on curbing wasteful government spending, was named Co-Chair of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, and fought to allow Americans the opportunity to buy safe prescription drugs from Canada. Before serving in the House, Ms. Northup was a Kentucky State Assembly member for nine years. Prior to taking state office, she taught mathematics and worked at the Ford Motor Company. Ms. Northup is a graduate of St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.

Robert S. Adler

For information about Mr. Adler, see our May 6, 2009 advisory.

Confirmation Hearing

During their confirmation hearing, Ms. Northup and Mr. Adler made the following points:

  • Ms. Northup vowed to protect American families and to rise above party affiliation, citing her record of independence from the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries while serving as a U.S. Representative. She also agreed that Chinese drywall is a serious problem for families across many states and represented that she would demand results quickly to protect the health of children.
  • Mr. Adler affirmed that his decisions as a CPSC commissioner must be rooted in science, not politics, and that protecting children has and always will be a major goal of the CPSC. He noted his general disfavor for stays of enforcement, describing them as too permissive for bad actors while at the same time being too stringent for companies acting in good faith to test the safety of their products.
  • Both Ms. Northup and Mr. Adler stated that they intend to use the Internet and the newly-mandated CPSC database to educate consumers about dangerous products, but also that they would continue to use traditional means of communication to reach the poor, elderly, and rural. They also agreed that while their assessments must be based on facts, they have an obligation to make timely decisions.

Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Kelley Drye & Warren’s Consumer Product Safety practice group is experienced in providing advice on the difficult issues of how and when potentially hazardous consumer products must be reported to the CPSC. If product recalls are necessary, we work with our clients and CPSC staff to quickly develop and implement cost-effective communications programs that satisfy product liability concerns and minimize potential penalties. When the CPSC threatens or brings enforcement actions, we advise our clients on appropriate strategies.

For more information about this Client Advisory, please contact:

Christie Grymes Thompson
(202) 342-8633