In a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit), a three-judge panel has upheld a lower court’s ruling that Congress’s delegation of authority over trade does not violate the Constitution. This ruling is the result of a complaint filed in June 2018 by several steel-related trade groups alleging that Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (Section 232) is an unconstitutional delegation of power to the president. The American Institute for International Steel, Inc. (AIIS), among other plaintiffs, sued the United States in the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT), arguing that President Donald Trump’s imposition of a 25 percent tariff on certain imported steel products under Presidential Proclamation 9705 and pursuant to Section 232 is unconstitutional because the authority it confers is “so unconstrained as to constitute legislative power that is Congress’s alone under Article I of the Constitution and so cannot be delegated.”
On March 25, 2019, the CIT rejected this challenge, concluding that the issue is controlled by the Supreme Court’s Algonquin decision, which declares Section 232 does not violate the nondelegation doctrine (see Trump and Trade Update of March 25, 2019). AIIS appealed the decision to the Federal Circuit, arguing that Algonquin does not apply in this case and that Section 232 is “facially unconstitutional” because it improperly delegates legislative authority to the president. In its appeal, AIIS argued that certain Supreme Court decisions issued after Algonquin undermine this decision, making it no longer binding. Affirming the CIT’s 2019 decision, the Federal Circuit, however, found “no basis” for overruling Algonquin as nothing in that decision’s analysis “rests on a premise about judicial review that later Supreme Court decisions have changed.”
The case is American Institute for International Steel v. United States, case number 19-1727, before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.