On August 18, 2023, pediatric physicians and surgeons submitted a friend of the court brief to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Magnetsafety.org v. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in support of federal safety standards regulating high-powered magnets. High-powered magnet sets are packages of small, powerful magnets that can be mentally stimulating and fun for adults—and extremely dangerous, even deadly, for children. 

Magnet industry groups are challenging federal safety standards issued by the CPSC in 2022 that protect children from these magnets. In 2012, these same industry players successfully rolled back a similar rule. After that rule was repealed, magnet ingestion–and the harms to children that result–increased sharply. Now, the industry groups and a far-right law firm backing them are not content to simply roll back life-saving regulations, they are trying to take down the entire CPSC, arguing that the agency is unconstitutional.

As the physicians on the front lines of  treating children for the injuries caused by magnet ingestion, authors of the brief—the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN), American College of Surgeons (ACS), American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS), and the American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA)—share the robust evidence that supports these important safety standards. Democracy Forward represented the coalition in submitting the brief. 

“As our brief on behalf of the nation’s foremost pediatric and medical experts makes clear, magnet ingestion is a pediatric healthcare crisis, and federal safety standards for magnets are necessary to stop it,” said Skye Perryman, President and CEO of Democracy Forward. “The physicians submitting this brief have witnessed first-hand the grotesque, horrible—even life-threatening—injuries that high-powered magnets have inflicted on children across America. That’s why they’ve offered this forceful, evidence-based repudiation of this lawsuit, which is simply a continuation of the trend of anti-democratic actors attempting to distort science, data, and the law to try to dismantle key federal programs and protections.” 

“Pediatricians have long been sounding the alarm for needed action to protect children from the dangerous and even tragic consequences caused by accidental ingestions of high-powered magnets,” said American Academy of Pediatrics President Sandy Chung, M.D., FAAP. “The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) welcomed the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) new safety standard as a meaningful step toward keeping children safe. Unfortunately, that progress is now in legal jeopardy once again. It is essential that the court upholds CPSC’s necessary and evidence-based rule on high-powered magnets so that the rule can continue to prevent serious injuries and save lives.” 

“Strong federal safety standards for high-powered magnets are needed to prevent injury caused by their accidental ingestion,” said Jenifer Lightdale, M.D., President of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN). “It is critical current federal regulations remain intact and the courts reject the specious arguments made by high-powered magnet manufacturers and their allies that disregard the medical harm and death these products have caused to children.” 

Legal experts and representatives from the AAP are available for interview.