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Supreme Court  Upholds Landmark Berkeley Cell Phone Radiation Right To Know Ordinance and Rejects Industries Appeal

Dec 11, 2019


Supreme Court  Upholds Landmark Berkeley Cell Phone Radiation Right To Know Ordinance and Rejects Industries Appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a free-speech challenge brought by the telecommunications industry against Berkeley, California’s Cell Phone Right to Know Ordinance.

Berkeley’s ordinance, first proposed in 2010 and passed in 2015, requires retailers to inform consumers that cell phones emit radiation that can exceed radiation limits when phones are close to the body. Since the Ordinance went into effect in 2016, it has survived multiple court challenges by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), which claimed the Ordinance violates free-speech rights. In August, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court panel upheld the Ordinance by concluding that the public health issues at hand were “substantial” and that the “text of the Berkeley notice was literally correct.” The CTIA was represented by former U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson and six industry groups filed amicus briefs in the case. The City of Berkeley was represented pro bono by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig.

The Berkeley Cell Phone Right To Know Ordinance requires retailers post a notice with the following text.

“The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

In response to this historic Supreme Court ruling, Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, President of Environmental Health Trust (EHT), issued the following statement:

“Congratulations to the Supreme Court and the Town Council and Citizens of Berkeley, California for upholding The Right to Know – our precious First Amendment guarantees that you have the right to know that cell phones emit radiation and that radiation exposure above the legalized maximum limit can occur when the phone is touching the body.

Democracy rests on an informed public that freely consents to be governed. We cannot consent to what we do not know. The right to know is essential to all citizens. And the duty to warn about potential hazards is an obligation of any company. Wherever the right to know and the duty to warn are not followed democracy itself is endangered.

We at the Environmental Health Trust want to extend a great big thank you to Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law – and to all the many individuals who have dedicated their time to this important work, including Joel Moskowitz, Ellie Marks, Cindy Franklin, Antoinette Stein, Lloyd Morgan, and many more.”

Investigations at FCC accredited labs by the Chicago Tribune, the law firm of Fegan Scott, and CBC Broadcasting, as well as published research on the hundreds of cell phones tested by the government of France, have revealed that some of today’s most popular smartphones when tested in body contact positions could emit up to 5 to 11 times the amount of radiation permitted by current FCC radiation exposure guidelines.

Watch Appeals court deliberations here.

Dr. Davis, Visiting Professor of Medicine, The Hebrew University, and the author of more than 220 scientific publications, is also the author of Disconnect–the truth about cellphone radiation. Dr. Davis testified on this issue at Berkeley City Council in 2011 and 2015 alongside Joel Moskowitz, PhD, the Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Lessig of Harvard Law who has represented Berkeley pro bono. In addition, Davis also testified in the 2009 Congressional Hearings on cell phone radiation and presented the fine print warnings on cell phone radiation buried in cell phones, urging the Senators to promote public access to that information.


Reuters/New York Times U.S. Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Berkeley Cell Phone Law

International Business Times Supreme Court Rejects Cell Phone Industry Challenge To Berkeley Ordinance

San Francisco Chronicle, Berkeley’s cell-phone health warning survives Supreme Court challenge

Daily Californian: Supreme Court upholds Berkeley’s ‘Right to Know’ ordinance

Sharyl Attkisson, California Cell Phone Health Warning Survives Supreme Court Challenge

Berkeleyside,  Berkeley cellphone law stands after U.S. Supreme Court declines to take up challenge