by Sean M. Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice, and Intellectual Property Professorial Lecturer in Residence, American University Washington College of Law
The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that was released last week contains a fascinating Section 8 on “Sovereignty.” The section appears intended to make all trade agreements with the U.S. not binding to the extent that they contradict any provision of U.S. law, current or future. If valid, the section would go a long way to calming fears in this country that new trade agreements, like the old ones, could be used by corporations or other countries to force the U.S. to alter domestic regulations. (See, for example, analysis on how the leaked TPP text could enable challenges to intellectual property limitations and exceptions like the U.S. fair use doctrine).
Here, I analyze Section 8’s promise using The Washington Post's “Fact or Fiction” Pinocchio scale. For containing numerous blatantly misleading characterizations of international law, including outright falsehoods concerning the ability of U.S. Congress to determine when international law binds, I give the provision four Pinocchios.