The Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs on imported steel, which resulted in retaliatory tariffs on a wide range of farm goods, has survived a constitutional challenge in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
In an opinion issued Friday, the court cited Supreme Court precedent in ruling that President Donald Trump had the authority under a 1962 law to impose the 25% tariffs for national security reasons. The American Institute for International Steel, which represents steel importers and other companies in the steel supply chain, argued that Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act unconstitutionally delegates legislative authority to the president.
AIIS plans to file a petition with Supreme Court seeking review of the decision. "We intend to seek Supreme Court review promptly and we are hopeful that the court will act before it adjourns in June," said AIIS attorney Alan Morrison, the Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest & Public Service at GW Law.
Basrai Farms, a walnut farm in California, had joined the challenge because of the impact of retaliatory tariffs on its business.
Following arguments in the Federal Circuit in January, Basrai said he got involved “because I didn’t like the price of walnuts falling by 50%,” which occurred following imposition of retaliatory tariffs on his commodity by China, India and Turkey ranging from 15-100% after the steel and aluminum tariffs went into effect.
Basrai attorney Jeffrey Grimson told Agri-Pulse following the court arguments that some of the justices have expressed interest in taking a non-delegation case “in order to try to put some new definition in the separation of powers." Following Friday's decision, he said, "“We are not surprised that the Federal Circuit decided it could not contravene a prior Supreme Court decision. That was the reason we previously supported AIIS in its effort to bypass the Federal Circuit and go immediately to the Supreme Court. Although that did not succeed, and American farmers like Basrai Farms have endured even more suffering, now we will have the chance for the high court to consider this case.”
“In its most straightforward form, the non-delegation doctrine stands for the general proposition that Congress cannot delegate the power to legislate to anyone else, specifically the executive branch,” Stephen Wermiel, a constitutional law professor at American University’s Washington College of Law, wrote on SCOTUSblog.com. “The doctrine is derived from Article I of the Constitution, which says that, “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.”
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