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Decision Striking down Burma Law Co

Subject: Decision Striking down Burma Law Could Have Wide Impact 


               Decision Striking down Burma
               Law Could Have Wide Impact


               BOSTON (AP) -- A federal judge's decision to strike down a
               law preventing the state government from dealing with
companies doing business
               in Burma could affect the purchasing laws of 44 states. 

               The state expects to decide by Friday whether to appeal the
decision handed
               down by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro on Wednesday. 

               "If this ruling stands, taxpayers and local governments
around the country will
               lose the right to decide whether to do business that
supports brutal regimes like
               Burma," said Byron Rushing, the Boston state representative
who wrote the law.

               "If selective purchasing had been banned 10 years ago,
Nelson Mandela might
               still be in prison today," Rushing said. 

               Tauro ruled that Massachusetts' Burma law "impermissibly
infringes on the
               federal government's power to regulate foreign affairs." 

               The lawsuit was brought by the National Foreign Trade
Council, which
               represents major U.S. corporations that it won't name for
fear consumers will
               boycott them. 

               The legal challenge has been called the first salvo in an
international battle to
               eliminate local sanction laws. 

               According to Robert Stumberg, law professor at Georgetown
University, 44
               states that have laws for domestic, environmental and
minority purchasing would
               be affected if the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately upheld
Tauro's decision. 

               In the United States, 23 cities -- including New York, San
Francisco and
               Portland, Ore. -- have laws prohibiting municipal
governments from dealing with
               companies doing business in Burma, also known as Myanmar. 

               Arizona, California, Colorado, Kentucky, Nebraska and New
Hampshire don't
               have statewide selective purchasing laws. 

               Frank Kittredge, NFTC director, said he shares concerns
about reported human
               rights abuses in Burma. 

               "However, our system of government was not designed to allow
the 50 states
               and hundreds of municipalities to conduct their own
individual foreign policies,"
               he said. 

               Burma's military regime has been accused of drug
trafficking, torture and using
               slave labor. 

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