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 March 30, 2023

SCOTUS rejects petition to challenge Trump-era steel import tariffs

Former President Donald Trump enacted tough tariffs on steel imports in 2018 in order to balance the scales and ensure America wasn't dependent on foreign nations for the critical material. 

In the second challenge to the tariffs, the U.S. Supreme Court this week rejected a petition from USP Holdings, Inc. in which it challenged Trump's tariffs. According to The Epoch Times, the high court rejected the challenge.

Interestingly, the Biden administration had also asked the Supreme Court to reject the challenge from USP Holdings, Inc., one of the largest steel importers in the U.S.

Some believe that President Joe Biden decided to make the exceedingly rare decision to back his predecessor's tariff decision due to overwhelming pressure from unions in the industry. Obviously, relaxing or eliminating the tariffs would end up costing thousands of jobs.

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted after he enacted the tariffs in 2018.

Trump added, "Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore—we win big. It’s easy!"

The president used the authority provided to him under Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962, "which permits the president to impose restrictions on the importation of goods deemed essential to national security. He said at the time that the tariffs were needed to bolster the production of airplanes, ships, and military materials with U.S. steel," The Epoch Times noted.

Notably, the high court didn't provide a reason for rejecting the importer's challenge, and no justices dissented.

The former president's tariffs didn't come without great legal controversy, with the issue having been challenged in lower courts prior to the Supreme Court's decision this week.

It was in 2017 that then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released a report in which he wrote that "domestic steel production is important for national security applications," adding in the same report that "excessive quantities of imports has the effect of weakening the internal economy of the United States, threatening to impair the national security."

His report was challenged by steel import companies as having violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it was "arbitrary and capricious."

Some believe the Biden administration's support comes as steelworker unions levy massive pressure to keep the tariffs as they are, as it's a boon to the domestic steel production industry.

Biden would undoubtedly lose critical support from large unions should he go the other way on the issue, and he certainly can't afford to lose fundraising and support at this juncture.

Written By:
Ryan Ledendecker

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