American Institute for International Steel (AIS) v. United States

806 F. App’x 982 (2020)

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American Institute for International Steel (AIS) v. United States

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
806 F. App’x 982 (2020)

Facts

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 granted the president the discretion under specified circumstances to impose tariffs on certain imported goods. Specifically, § 232 permitted the secretary of commerce to conduct an investigation, in consultation with the secretary of defense and potentially the public, into whether the importation of certain goods threatened the national security of the United States. At the conclusion of an investigation, the secretary of commerce was required to present to the president his findings and recommendations as to whether the president should take action. If the secretary of commerce found that national security would be harmed by the importation of the relevant goods, the president had to decide whether he agreed with the secretary of commerce and, if so, what action to take. In doing so, § 232(d) set forth numerous factors that the president had to consider, including (1) the domestic production necessary for expected national-defense requirements, (2) the domestic-production capacity to meet such requirements, (3) the growth requirements of such domestic industries, (4) the impact of foreign competition on the relevant domestic industries, and (5) whether the weakening of the national economy would harm national security. Pursuant to § 232, the secretary of commerce determined that the level of foreign-steel imports threatened national security and recommended that the president immediately impose tariffs on steel imports to relieve that threat. Concurring with the secretary of commerce, the president imposed the recommended tariffs on steel imports from all countries other than Mexico and Canada. The American Institute for International Steel, Inc. (AIS) (plaintiff) sued the United States (defendant) in the United States Court of International Trade (CIT), arguing that § 232 was unconstitutional because it improperly delegated to the president Congress’s legislative power under Article I of the Constitution. The CIT rejected AIS’s constitutional challenge, which the CIT ruled was foreclosed by the United States Supreme Court’s 1976 decision in Federal Energy Administration v. Algonquin SNG, Inc. AIS appealed, contending that subsequent Supreme Court decisions undermined the logic of the Algonquin decision and that five Supreme Court justices had expressed interest in reconsidering Algonquin. Accordingly, AIS contended, Algonquin no longer was binding precedent.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Taranto, J.)

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