Victories

Since 1971, Public Citizen has helped make the country healthier, safer and more democratic. Here are some of the victories we have won for consumers, justice and democracy.

Jump to Year

2018

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2017

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2016

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2015

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February

Students successfully fight back against misleading fine print in Corinthian Colleges’ enrollment forms, ensuring their right to hold the colleges accountable in court.

2014

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2013

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2012

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December

The movement to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling for corporate money in politics grows, gaining nationwide support in 11 states and more than 350 localities.

December

Public Citizen successfully pushes for the passage of the STOCK act, which prohibits congressional insider training.

March

In a key victory in the government’s anti-smoking campaign, a federal appeals court upholds a law requiring tobacco companies to display large, graphic warnings on cigarette packages.

2011

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2010

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2009

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July

A successful Public Citizen lawsuit to obtain documents about the safety of using a cell phone while driving helps spark a national debate about phone usage in automobiles.

2008

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2007

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2006

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April

In response to a Public Citizen complaint against a Freddie Mac lobbyist's extravagant congressional fundraising, the FEC issues the largest civil penalty in its history -- $3.8 million.

2005

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2004

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2003

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December

Public Citizen forces the Department of Transportation to issue new “hours of service” safety rules governing truck drivers.

September

Public Citizen launches a website to track special-interest contributions to President Bush's 2004 campaign.

2002

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2001

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December

Public Citizen research links political connections to regulatory actions taken by public officials to aid energy trader Enron Corp., which collapsed amid allegations of accounting fraud.

September

A Public Citizen study outlines corporate abuse of NAFTA’s investor protection provisions and NAFTA’s negative impact on U.S. farmers.

July

A Public Citizen report finds that hospitals in nearly every state violated a federal patient dumping law.

2000

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August

Public Citizen releases a publication that lists the 20,125 physicians nationwide who have been disciplined by state medical boards.

July

A Public Citizen report documents the role of Big Tobacco in creating fake “lawsuit abuse” groups that push to strip citizens of their legal rights.

1999

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1998

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September

Public Citizen again stops passage of the undemocratic Fast Track trade legislation.

August

Public Citizen is a major player in the call for reform of the Independent Counsel Act to avoid future Ken Starr-type fiascos.

March

Public Citizen exposes a series of unethical HIV experiments funded by the U.S. government and others in developing countries.

A Public Citizen report reveals more than 500 U.S. physicians disciplined for sexual abuse or misconduct, with many still practicing.

Public Citizen successfully spearheads opposition to a tobacco industry bailout in a lawsuit settlement.

Public Citizen leads an effort to defeat damaging Fast Track trade legislation, and publishes on its website secret details of the Multilateral Agreement of Investment trade treaty.

1996

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April

Public Citizen helps secure a Clinton veto of legislation designed to limit corporate liability for dangerous products.

Public Citizen helps bring the need for campaign finance reform to the top of the national agenda.

Public Citizen successfully opposes legislation that would have mandated the transport to and permanent storage of the nation’s nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, paid for by government, not nuclear power companies.

Public Citizen leads a coalition to preserve a strong regulatory role for the FDA, blocking industry-led rollback efforts.

Public Citizen helps win a Department of Transportation rule on truck rear-underride protection.

1995

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Public Citizen launches a new division, Global Trade Watch, to protect public interest safeguards in international trade deals such as GATT and NAFTA.

A congressional gift ban and lobbying registration reform is passed after a major Public Citizen campaign.

Public Citizen takes a lead role in organizing a coalition that successfully blocks a massive industry push to enact elements of the GOP’s “Contract for America”, designed to roll back health and safety protections.

Public Citizen documents the destructive effects of NAFTA on jobs, consumer protections and the environment with a major report: "NAFTA’s Broken Promises".

Public Citizen helps secure final Department of Transportation rules on anti-lock brakes on trucks and to prevent head injuries.

1994

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Public Citizen helps to enlist nearly 100 co-sponsors for single-payer health care reform bill modeled after the Canadian system.

Public Citizen helps win legislation protecting consumers from home equity scams.

Public Citizen successfully lobbies Congress to end taxpayer funding for the Advanced Liquid Metal (Breeder) reactor.

In response to a Public Citizen lawsuit, the FDA announces it will withdraw approval of Parlodel for use as a lactation suppressant. Parlodel was linked with fatal strokes and seizures in breastfeeding mothers.

Public Citizen publishes the “Green Buyer’s Car Book” and a related consumer guide, providing detailed information on vehicles’ emissions, recycled components and other environmental factors.

Intense Public Citizen lobbying delays the passage of the damaging General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) trade legislation.

1993

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Public Citizen releases a report exposing the influence of tobacco money on Congress and uses rallies to support meaningful campaign finance reform.

“Worst Pills, Best Pills II” is published with new information for consumers; two million copies will be sold by 1995.

Public Citizen wins a landmark court victory that preserving the electronic records of the Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Public Citizen plays a leading role in opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the international trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada that was blamed for the loss of many U.S. jobs., launching a new citizens’ trade movement.

Public Citizen releases a report detailing 680 privately funded trips by senators, including all-expense trips to Puerto Rico and Florida paid for by large corporations and trade associations.

1992

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Public Citizen’s four-year campaign leads the FDA to severely restrict the use of silicone gel implants except for post-mastectomy patients.

In New York’s State Court of Appeals, Public Citizen wins the first case upholding the right of a lawyer to sue for damages when fired from a law firm after demanding that ethics violations be reported.

Public Citizen exposes the threat to government health and safety standards posed by Vice President Dan Quayle’s Council on Competitiveness.

Public Citizen urges the FDA to ban Halcion, the most widely used sleeping pill, after it discovers links between the drug and adverse psychiatric effects.

Public Citizen wins court ruling allowing a dissident Teamster group – Teamsters for a Democratic Union - to keep its list of contributors confidential.

Public Citizen starts court proceedings to have 4,000 hours of tapes from the Nixon White House released to the public.

Public Citizen plays an instrumental role in passing the federal Anti-Car Theft Act, which would reduce the incidence of motor vehicle thefts, facilitate the tracing and recovery of stolen motor vehicles, and require the federal government to create a database for used car buyers containing the mileage, title and history of theft or damage of vehicles.

OSHA imposes a standard to protect workers from cadmium, linked to lung cancer and kidney damage, after Public Citizen wins a court order.

1991

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Public Citizen publishes “Women’s Health Alert”, a handbook of vital health information for women.

Public Citizen wins an important separation of powers decision in Citizens Against Aircraft Noise v. Met. Washington Airports, a U.S. Supreme Court case involving congressional control of two Washington, D.C., area airports.

Public Citizen plays a key role in the passage of new auto and truck safety laws requiring air bags and head injury protections, and limiting the expansion of big rigs.

Public Citizen publishes "They Love To Fly ... And It Shows," a report exposing House members who took nearly 4,000 privately funded trips in 1989-90.

The Teamsters union elects new leadership, capping nearly two decades of Public Citizen legal support for pro-reform movement.

1990

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Public Citizen publishes the first edition of "6,982 Questionable Doctors", a nationwide listing of 6,892 doctors disciplined for incompetence, negligence, substance abuse and other violations.

A Public Citizen court victory forces the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to issue mandatory training requirements for nuclear plant workers.

Public Citizen initiates a “Doctor Bribing Hotline” for doctors to report unethical or illegal attempts by pharmaceutical companies to persuade them to prescribe one medicine over another. Doctors reported offers of free dinners, airline tickets and cash.

Public Citizen publishes "Who Robbed America?", a guide to the savings and loan scandal that cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

1989

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Federal regulation requiring driver-side air bags or passive seat belts in all cars takes full effect after a 20-year Public Citizen battle with auto makers.

Public Citizen releases a report detailing cesarean section rates in 30 states.

Public Citizen wins a ruling in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia requiring FTC regulation of smokeless tobacco products.

Public Citizen helps persuade California voters to shut down the Rancho Seco nuclear plant.

Public Citizen successfully campaigns to have offensive R.J. Reynolds cigarette ads withdrawn.

Public Citizen helps found a new consumer advocacy organization, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, with other consumer groups and insurance companies working jointly and exclusively on highway and auto safety issues.

Public Citizen sues the Bush administration for the release of Oliver North’s diaries from the Iran-Contra affair.

Public Citizen and Ralph Nader successfully oppose a $45,500 congressional pay raise, forcing Congress to take a smaller raise and ban honoraria.

The FDA orders tampon manufacturers to implement a standardized system of absorbency ratings to help reduce Toxic Shock Syndrome. This followed a decade-long effort by Public Citizen.

1988

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Public Citizen publishes the first edition of “Worst Pills, Best Pills”, a consumer guide to dangerous and ineffective drugs and their safer alternatives, selling 2 million copies over the next 10 years.

Public Citizen actively supports Proposition 103, an automobile insurance rate reduction initiative that is then approved by California voters.

Public Citizen leads a successful effort in Congress to strengthen a pesticide law.

Public Citizen calls on the FDA to order to halt the use of silicone gel in breast implants.

Public Citizen publishes “Citizen’s Guide to Radon Home Test Kits”.

Public Citizen releases a report exposing the NRC’s refusal to comply with law governing nuclear worker training and revealing that more than two-thirds of 3,000 mishaps at U.S. reactors in the previous year involved personnel error.

Public Citizen wins the U.S. Supreme Court case Virginia v. Friedman, regarding Virginia’s bar admission criteria for non-residents.

Public Citizen wins the U.S. Supreme Court case of “Lingle v. Norge”, protecting workers who are fired for filing workers’ compensation claims from losing their right to file suit under union-management arbitration provisions.

1987

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Public Citizen issues a report evaluating the decisions of Judge Robert Bork on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, helping to block his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Public Citizen obtains a court order directing chemical producers of Agent Orange to make important information available to public.

Public Citizen helps persuade Congress to pass legislation restricting the time banks can hold checks.

Public Citizen publishes the first edition of “Unnecessary Cesarean Sections”, an in-depth investigation into the skyrocketing rate of cesarean births.

Public Citizen publishes the first “Nuclear Lemons” report, a nationwide listing of reactors with the worst safety records and other problems.

After eight years of litigation, Public Citizen wins a victory for health care workers when OSHA imposes standards for exposure to cancer-causing ethylene oxide, used to clean medical instruments.

1986

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The Supreme Court in “Bowsher v. Synar” rules in favor of Public Citizen lawsuit, declaring that the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction law violates the Constitution’s separation-of-powers doctrine.

Congress requires health warning labels on chewing tobacco and snuff, capping Public Citizen’s two-year campaign.

Public Citizen and Democracy Project publish “Freedom From Harm: The Civilizing Influence of Health, Safety and Environmental Regulation”, explaining the importance of regulations in protecting consumers.

Public Citizen publishes “Care of the Seriously Mentally Ill: A Rating of State Programs”, ranking states from highest to lowest in their provisions for mentally ill patients.

Public Citizen plays an instrumental role in the 1986 Tax Reform Bill, especially in lowering taxes for low-income Americans.

1985

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Public Citizen successfully petitions the FDA to require a Reye's Syndrome warning on aspirin labels following a campaign that lasted several years.

Public Citizen wins a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Zauderer v. Office of Disciplinary Counsel of the Supreme Court of Ohio, expanding the rights of lawyers to advertise.

1984

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Public Citizen publishes “Retreat from Safety: Reagan’s Attack on America’s Health”, a book exposing Reagan administration efforts to roll back health and safety regulations.

Following AT&T’s divestiture, Public Citizen mounts a nationwide “Campaign for Affordable Phones” to oppose rate hikes for residential customers.

Public Citizen opens a field office in Austin, Texas, after successfully defeating an effort by Southwest Bell to drastically raise phone prices.

Public Citizen successfully pushes for a law encouraging states to set a minimum age of 21 for serving alcohol or risk losing federal highway funds.

The FDA strengthens warning labels for the anti-inflammatory drugs Butazolidin and Tandearil after Public Citizen cites serious adverse reactions.

Public Citizen leads a successful fight against approval of hazardous injectable contraceptive Depo-Provera.

Public Citizen pressure defeats special antitrust provisions for beer distributors and preserves a law prohibiting American companies from paying bribes to foreign officials to win business contracts.

1983

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Public Citizen wins a historic separation-of-powers case in “Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha” before the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down legislative veto, affecting more than 200 statutes.

Public Citizen assists State Farm counsel in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, “Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance”, overturning Reagan’s revocation of the auto safety standard requiring automatic restraints such as air bags.

Based on a report by Ralph Nader on consumer cooperatives, Public Citizen founds Buyers Up to help consumers save money on heating oil.

Public Citizen persuades Congress to halt funding for the Clinch River breeder reactor, after President Reagan revives the Tennessee program, defeating Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker of Tennessee.

Public Citizen participates in a landmark Supreme Court decision overturning President Reagan's revocation of auto safety standards for automatic restraints such as air bags.

After intense Public Citizen lobbying, Congress refuses to overrule an FTC rule requiring funeral homes to itemize price lists and preventing the required inclusion of casket and embalming costs in cremation.

Public Citizen wins a legal victory compelling the Department of Labor to commence rulemaking to control the hazardous workplace gas ethylene oxide.

Public Citizen issues a report, “Aid for Dependent Corporations: A Study of the Fiscal 1984 Corporate Welfare Budget,” part of an ongoing push to expose and reduce corporate welfare from the federal budget. It identifies more than $82 billion in direct corporate subsidies included in Reagan’s federal budget proposal.

1982

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Public Citizen leads a successful effort to block passage of a far-reaching regulatory rollback bill.

The arthritis drug Oraflex (benoxaprofen) is withdrawn from the market after Public Citizen exposes the many deaths and injuries caused by the drug.

Public Citizen persuades Congress not to exempt doctors, lawyers and other professionals from Federal Trade Commission oversight.

After an extensive Public Citizen campaign, cancer-causing urea formaldehyde is banned in home insulation.

Public Citizen leads the defense against congressional attacks on the Freedom of Information Act.

Public Citizen’s lobbying efforts halt plans to extend drug manufacturers’ patent monopolies on their products by up to seven years.

A Public Citizen study of the OSHA enforcement reveals a 50 percent drop in citations of serious violations under the Reagan administration.

“Over the Counter Pills That Don't Work” is published and becomes a national best-seller.

1981

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Public Citizen helps thwart President Reagan’s attempts to dismantle the Clean Air Act and to diminish authority of Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Public Citizen helps block Reagan administration efforts to eliminate the Legal Services program for low-income consumers and to cut funding for the Federal Trade Commission.

Public Citizen urges the FDA to ban misleading advertising for the popular tranquilizer drug Valium, and the company withdraws the ads.

Public Citizen publishes “Cataracts: A Consumers’ Guide to Choosing the Best Treatment”.

Public Citizen publishes “A Worker’s Guide to Winning at the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission” and helps counter anti-regulatory efforts.

Public Citizen plays a major role in canceling dairy price supports, saving consumers an estimated 8 cents per gallon of milk.

1980

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Public Citizen publishes the best-selling “Pills That Don't Work”, a consumer guide to ineffective drugs.

Public Citizen plays a critical role in the passage of the Superfund law, which requires cleanup of toxic waste sites without limits on liability.

Public Citizen releases a progress report on the Three Mile Island reactor cleanup, “TMI: One Year in Retrospect”. The report documents safety mishaps at other nuclear power plants and lists accidents involving transportation of nuclear materials.

Public Citizen leads a successful push for legislation that eased pricing rules governing the trucking industry, enabling more competition and saving each American family $70 to $105 a year.

Pressure by Public Citizen leads to an FDA recall of Rely tampons, linked to toxic shock syndrome.

"Public Citizen" magazine debuts, giving members regular updates on Public Citizen issues and activities.

1979

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A Public Citizen petition leads to an EPA ban on the use of DBCP, a pesticide proven to cause sterility in men and cancer in laboratory animals.

Public Citizen exposes a history of safety problems at the Three Mile Island reactor after the nation’s worst nuclear accident there.

Public Citizen publishes a first of its kind directory called “Cutting Prices: A Guide to Washington Area Surgeons’ Fees”, listing fees by named surgeons for 12 common surgical procedures in Washington area.

Public Citizen wins a landmark case in New York, striking down residency requirements preventing lawyers from working in the state and thus allowing greater competition.

1978

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Congress passes Public Citizen’s National Consumer Cooperative Bill authorizing $300 million in seed money for consumer cooperatives.

Public Citizen issues a report on health and safety violations at the Central Intelligence Agency, suggesting the CIA may be hazardous to its employees’ health.

Public Citizen publishes the first edition of “Getting Yours: A Consumer’s Guide to Obtaining Your Medical Records” to help consumers gain access to their health records.

1977

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Public Citizen mobilizes citizens who persuade President Carter to halt the construction of the Clinch River breeder reactor in Tennessee.

The FDA bans diabetes drug Phenformin, linked to hundreds of deaths each year, after a Public Citizen petition and lawsuit.

Public Citizen files a class-action suit on behalf of 1,100 women who were given a synthetic form of estrogen called DES, which increases the risk of breast cancer, without their knowledge in the 1950s as part of a University of Chicago medical experiment. The case was not certified as a class, but the 1982 settlement was extremely favorable, including not only a payment but free exams and medical treatment.

1976

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The FDA bans Red Dye No. 2 after Public Citizen’s four-year campaign against the carcinogenic food dye.

A Public Citizen petition leads to an FDA ban on the use of cancer-causing chloroform in cough medicines and toothpaste.

Public Citizen wins Va. State Board. of Pharmacy v. Va. Citizens Consumer Council, a landmark Supreme Court ruling that the First Amendment applies to commercial speech, overturning a Virginia law that prohibited pharmacists from advertising prescription drug prices.

Public Citizen is a key advocate in passing three significant pieces of legislation: the Toxic Substances Control Act; medical device safety legislation; and antitrust reform legislation allowing states to sue price fixers.

Public Citizen uncovers a secret deal between the FDA and the Upjohn Company to conceal the contamination of anti-diabetes drug Tolinase with cancer-causing nitrosamine.

Public Citizen forces the Senate Finance Committee to delete 20 special-interest tax giveaways from the 1976 Tax Reform Act.

Public Citizen successfully lobbies for the Civil Rights Enforcement Reimbursement Act, permitting successful civil rights litigants to recover costs from defendants judged to have violated civil rights laws.

Public Citizen successfully lobbies for the Sunshine Act, requiring senior government officials to keep records and public logs, and for expanding provisions in the Freedom of Information Act.

Public Citizen wins a U.S. Supreme Court case, Nader v. Allegheny Airlines, Inc., upholding airline passengers’ rights to sue for damages when bumped from flights for which they had confirmed reservations.

1975

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Public Citizen wins Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, a U.S. Supreme Court decision subjecting lawyers to federal antitrust laws, making standard fee-setting agreements illegal.

Public Citizen successfully lobbies Congress for energy conservation legislation, including fuel economy requirements for cars.

Public Citizen publishes “Through the Mental Health Maze: A Consumer’s Guide to Finding a Psychotherapist” and “Taking the Pain Out of Finding a Good Dentist”.

A Public Citizen survey of the 50 largest hospitals in the U.S. reveals most are violating government regulations to protect Medicaid recipients during surgical sterilization.

Public Citizen petitions the FDA to require safety testing for Dalkon Shield and other intrauterine contraceptive devices.

After five filibuster votes defeated the Consumer Protection Act, Public Citizen helps persuade the Senate leadership to change the filibuster rules, cutting the number of votes needed to end debate from 67 to 60.

1974

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Public Citizen persuades Congress to pass major improvements to the Freedom of Information Act and override President Gerald Ford’s veto.

Public Citizen publishes a directory of doctors in Prince Georges County, Maryland – the first of its kind in the nation – and challenges laws restricting consumer access to information about doctors.

Ralph Nader creates Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy Project to mobilize opposition to nuclear power and promote energy conversation and renewable sources.

Public Citizen’s “report cards” play a key role in the defeat of several House committee chairmen in the first caucus election since the seniority system was abolished in 1972.

Public Citizen is instrumental in passing legislation giving the NHTSA subpoena power and authority to order a recall of unsafe cars and to set safety standards for school buses.

1973

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Ralph Nader and Joan Claybrook establish Public Citizen’s Congress Watch as Public Citizen’s lobbying and legislative arm.

Public Citizen publishes a paper, “An Outline for Consumer Action on Prescription and Drug Prices.”

Shortly after Public Citizen urges action, the FDA bans the Pertussin medicated vaporizer in the wake of the deaths of 18 children.

In response to Public Citizen’s lawsuit, President Nixon’s firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox is ruled illegal.

In response to a petition by Public Citizen and the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union, the DOL set an emergency temporary standard for 10 cancer-causing chemicals. The department issued the emergency standard the following year.

1972

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Ralph Nader and Alan Morrison establish the Public Citizen Litigation Group to litigate on behalf of consumers.

Ralph Nader is bumped from an airline flight, and Public Citizen files suit, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court decision that consumers who are bumped from overbooked flights can sue for damages.

Public Citizen plays a key role in the creation of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

1971

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Public Citizen convenes a conference of truck drivers to seek safety reforms. The Professional Drivers Council for Safety and Health is formed.

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