Supreme Court Balks, but Congress Should Act to Restore Its Authority over Trade Policy

Featuring Gary Horlick, Donald B. Cameron Jr., and Daniel J. Ikenson

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962—the so‐​called national security statute—gives the president vast latitude to identify and define the nature of a threat to national security and to determine appropriate actions to mitigate that threat. President Trump has invoked this statute more frequently than any other president, most notoriously in cases resulting in tariffs on steel and aluminum from allied countries.

Recently the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in a case brought by an association of steel importers who argue that the law’s absence of an “intelligible principle” to guide the executive’s actions constitutes a violation of the nondelegation doctrine, rendering the law unconstitutional. Fortunately, the Cato Institute has no such reservations and will hold a public forum to air the appellants’ compelling arguments. Discussion will also cover policy options and the broader range of trade laws where Congress seems to have ceded—or the president has nonetheless claimed—seemingly boundless discretion.