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Trade court grants US steel group's request for panel to hear Section 232 case

Pittsburgh — The US Court of International Trade has granted a request filed by the American Institute for International Steel to have a three-judge panel decide whether the US Section 232 statute used to impose tariffs on steel imports is unconstitutional, the AIIS said Thursday.

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CIT cases are typically heard by a single judge, however in challenges to the constitutionality of US law and other instances with "broad and significant implications, the chief judge may assign the case to a three-judge panel," according to the court.

In its June 27 motion requesting a three-judge panel, the AIIS said it wanted an expedited appeal process that would bypass the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and head straight to the Supreme Court. The motion for a three-judge panel was the first of its kind filed with the CIT since 2011, according to the AIIS.

The AIIS argues that the Trump administration's decision to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports from some countries and not others raises "an issue of the constitutionality of both an Act of Congress (Section 232) and proclamations of the President made under the authority of that Act, and has significant implications for the administration of the customs laws."

Justice Department lawyers representing the US in a court filing last week said the Trump administration's decision to implement steel tariffs using a national security defense under Section 232 is in line with the congressional intent behind the statute.

President Trump initiated Section 232 investigations into steel and aluminum imports in 2017, which ultimately resulted in a 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum.

--Justine Coyne, justine.coyne@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com