News from AIIS 
March 4, 2020

Richard Chriss, AIIS President 
Phone: 703.245.8040

Alexandria, VA. March 4, 2020. AIIS has announced that it will take its fight to ensure free trade in the global steel market to the U.S. Supreme Court, following a federal appeals court ruling that upheld the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported steel.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on March 2 affirmed a U.S. Court of International Trade ruling against the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS), which had argued that the tariffs violate the U.S. Constitution.

“While disappointed, we are not surprised by the Appeals Court ruling,” AIIS President Richard Chriss said. “We have expected all along for this constitutional question, ultimately, to be decided by the nation’s highest court. We intend to seek Supreme Court review promptly, and we are hopeful that the court will act before it adjourns in June.”

In March 2018, President Donald Trump announced that he was imposing 25 percent tariffs on steel imports in the name of national security. AIIS and two of its members filed a lawsuit in the Court of International Trade, asking the judges to rule that the administration’s implementation of the tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 was an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers.

Both the Court of International Trade in its March 2019 decision and the Court of Appeals on Monday based their rulings on the 1976 Supreme Court case, Federal Energy Administration vs. Algonquin SNG, Inc., which upheld the constitutionality of Section 232. However, previous presidential invocations of the provision involved explicit trade restrictions, such as quotas. Trump is the first president to impose tariffs under the provision. AIIS argues that, in enacting Section 232, Congress delegated, without boundaries, powers to the Executive Branch that the Constitution reserves solely to Congress.

Since the Algonquin case is a Supreme Court precedent, Chriss said, AIIS anticipated that lower courts would be reluctant to limit its application. Because of this, and because of the important issues at stake, the Institute last year sought to go directly to the Supreme Court following the Court of International Trade ruling, but the justices declined to hear the case before it went through the Court of Appeals.

The case will be one of the key topics to be discussed at AIIS’s Steel-Con event at the Houstonian Hotel in Houston on March 5. The Institute’s attorney of record in the case, Don Cameron, will lead the discussion.


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