The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration in a case concerning steel tariffs, ruling against President Joe Biden’s administration and other steel importers who argued that such tariffs had caused economic detriment.
USP Holdings had appealed to lower courts, contending that the imposition of said tariffs was improper; however, this appeal was ultimately denied. The Biden administration maintained its stance that the current level of tariffs should be largely preserved.
“The Biden administration understands that simply lifting steel tariffs without any solution in place, particularly beyond the dialogue, could well mean layoffs and plant closures in Pennsylvania and in Ohio and other states where obviously the impact would be felt not only economically but politically,” Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said.
“Trump cited 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 tariffs created tension with some U.S. allies, although some countries were exempted from the policy,” the report added.
“The Supreme Court turned away the petition in USP Holdings Inc. v. United States, court file 22-565, in an unsigned order. The court didn’t explain its decision. No justices dissented from the order. In April 2017, then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross commenced an investigation to determine whether “steel was being imported under such circumstances as to threaten or impair national security,” according to the petition (pdf) filed with the Supreme Court,” it continued.
The Supreme Court is currently considering a number of cases that could have far-reaching implications for climate change litigation. As Boyden Gray, former counsel to the Vice President in the Reagan administration and White House Counsel to President George H.W. Bush, outlined in an opinion piece for Fox News, federal courts are divided over whether such lawsuits should be governed by state or federal law – leaving it up to the Supreme Court to decide.
“For over a century, the Supreme Court has held that lawsuits over air (and water) pollution that crosses state lines must be decided under federal law. This means overreaching states and cities cannot impose their environmental agendas on their neighbors or otherwise hijack the domain of federal environmental law, federal regulations, and international treaties,” Gray wrote.
“The Supreme Court unanimously extended this principle in American Electric Power Co. v. Connecticut (AEP). That case, decided in 2011, involved federal-law claims by eight states, New York City, and others to compel certain power companies to abate their greenhouse-gas emissions. In an opinion by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court concluded that applying federal law was appropriate, then agreed with the Obama administration that those claims couldn’t proceed in court at all because Congress has delegated the regulation of greenhouse-gas emissions to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Air Act,” he added.
Gray then remarked on two other instances in which progressive states and cities have initiated legal action, seeking billions of dollars in damages related to past, present, and future climate change.
In doing so, they are attempting to circumvent the opinion expressed by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The 2nd Circuit in 2021 dismissed such claims outright in City of New York v. Chevron Corp. There, New York City sued a handful of energy companies under state law for damages allegedly caused by climate change. The court concluded that “over a century” of Supreme Court precedent makes clear that federal law necessarily applies to lawsuits relating to air pollution that crosses state lines, which includes greenhouse-gas emissions. Following AEP, the Second Circuit dismissed the case.
Three of these cases are now before the Supreme Court—the 3rd Circuit’s decision in Delaware v. BP America Inc., the 9th Circuit’s decision in Chevron Corp. v. San Mateo County and the 10th Circuit’s decision in Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. v. Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County. The energy companies in each case have asked the court to intervene and resolve both splits, reaffirming that climate change lawsuits are inherently governed by federal law and therefore belong in federal court.
The Supreme Court has the potential to deliver a significant impact this term to liberals and those attempting to utilize laws for the purpose of imposing sanctions on major companies in the name of “climate change,” Gray cautioned.