The imposition of import tariffs on national security grounds got further support this week when the Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel products. The decision leaves intact a summer 2022 decision by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which largely upheld a February 2021 ruling by the Court of International Trade.

After the Trump administration levied the Section 232 tariffs on steel in 2018 the courts have largely upheld them in a variety of challenges. In July 2021 the CAFC confirmed a presidential decision to double the steel tariffs on imports from Turkey, a ruling now final after the Supreme Court opted not to hear that case either. Earlier this year the CAFC ruled in favor of the extension of the Section 232 tariffs to steel derivatives. In March 2019 the courts rejected an argument that Section 232’s delegation to the president of Congress’ authority to impose tariffs and regulate foreign commerce was unconstitutional.

Section 232 tariffs have also been defended by the Biden administration, which has argued that they were imposed on national security grounds and are therefore not subject to challenge at the World Trade Organization. With the White House increasingly equating economic security with national security, there has been speculation that more Section 232 tariffs could be levied in the future. The recent court actions could further embolden supporters of such action.

For more information on strategies to mitigate the impact of the Section 232 tariffs, please contact Mark Segrist or Mark Tallo.

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