SCOTUS denies petition challenging Trump's 2018 steel import tariffs

 March 29, 2023

In early 2018, then-President Donald Trump enacted tariffs on steel imports to help level the playing field as far as an imbalance of imports to exports of the crucial material. 

According to The Epoch Times, USP Holdings, Inc., one of the largest steel importers in the United States, petitioned the Supreme Court in an attempt to have the tariffs removed. This week, the high court rejected the petition.

Interestingly, the Biden administration also asked the Supreme Court to consider rejecting the petition so the tariffs would remain in place.

The development comes in the wake of the Supreme Court rejecting a similar petition from Transpacific Steel LLC, a steel importer that focuses on imports from Turkey.

What happened?

Lower courts rejected USP Holding's claims that the Trump administration violated the rules when originally enacting the tariffs.

The Epoch Times noted:

The tariffs went into effect on March 1, 2018. A 25 percent tariff on imported steel from most countries was imposed, along with a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum.

"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 a day after the tariffs went into effect.

He 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!"

Trump enacted the tariffs using the power of Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962, making it a national security case.

Why Biden's support?

According to Politico, the Biden administration, one industry leader said, feared that cancelling the tariffs would result in massive job losses in states that rely heavily on steel factories.

"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,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

Notably, the high court didn't explain why it rejected the petition, and no justices dissented with the final decision.

Politico added that pressure on the Biden administration from large unions is likely why it took the rare position of backing one of Trump's policies. Given that Biden relies heavily on unions for fundraising and votes, that revelation comes as no surprise at all.

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