On 15 November 2019 the US Court of International Trade denied the Trump administration's motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an importer challenging the government's use of a Cold War-era trade law to double national security tariffs on steel imports from Turkey.
Transpacific Steel LLC filed the lawsuit before the trade court in January 2019, arguing that the increase in tariffs was unlawful under the statute and violated the due process and equal protection requirements under the Constitution.
In denying the government's request to dismiss the lawsuit, Transpacific prevailed on both procedural and equal protection grounds. On behalf of the three-judge panel, Judge Claire R Kelly stated that "the President's expansive view of his power under Section 232 is mistaken and at odds with the language of the statute, its legislative history, and its purpose".
The trade court added that "it is difficult to imagine Presidential action in connection with Section 232 where one would be at a loss to conjure a rational justification" for imposing 50% duties on Turkey, "yet the reality of this case proves otherwise… We also cannot sustain a classification for which there is no offered — or even possible — rational justification tethered to the statute".
In March 2018 President Donald Trump issued a proclamation titled "Adjusting Imports of Steel Into the United States", which imposed 25% ad valorem tariffs on US imports of certain steel products, pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act 1962. Five months later, the administration doubled the Turkish steel tariff to 50%, before eventually lowering the tariffs back to 25%. Transpacific is seeking compensation for the additional duties that were paid.
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