FDA v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp., 529 U.S. 120, 14 (2000)

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Cite as: 529 U. S. 120 (2000)

Opinion of the Court

context"). It is a "fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme." Davis v. Michigan Dept. of Treasury, 489 U. S. 803, 809 (1989). A court must therefore interpret the statute "as a symmetrical and coherent regulatory scheme," Gustafson v. Alloyd Co., 513 U. S. 561, 569 (1995), and "fit, if possible, all parts into an harmonious whole," FTC v. Mandel Brothers, Inc., 359 U. S. 385, 389 (1959). Similarly, the meaning of one statute may be affected by other Acts, particularly where Congress has spoken subsequently and more specifically to the topic at hand. See United States v. Estate of Romani, 523 U. S. 517, 530-531 (1998); United States v. Fausto, 484 U. S. 439, 453 (1988). In addition, we must be guided to a degree by common sense as to the manner in which Congress is likely to delegate a policy decision of such economic and political magnitude to an administrative agency. Cf. MCI Telecommunications Corp. v. American Telephone & Telegraph Co., 512 U. S. 218, 231 (1994).

With these principles in mind, we find that Congress has directly spoken to the issue here and precluded the FDA's jurisdiction to regulate tobacco products.


Viewing the FDCA as a whole, it is evident that one of the Act's core objectives is to ensure that any product regulated by the FDA is "safe" and "effective" for its intended use. See 21 U. S. C. 393(b)(2) (1994 ed., Supp. III) (defining the FDA's mission); More Information for Better Patient Care: Hearing before the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, 104th Cong., 2d Sess., 83 (1996) (statement of FDA Deputy Comm'r Schultz) ("A fundamental precept of drug and device regulation in this country is that these products must be proven safe and effective before they can be sold"). This essential purpose pervades the FDCA. For instance, 21 U. S. C. 393(b)(2) (1994 ed., Supp. III) defines


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