Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to Trump’s steel tariffs

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 16: An overcast sky hangs above the U.S. Supreme Court on December 16, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Court is expected to release additional orders from the conference that was held last week. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images via CNN)

 (CNN) — The US Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a challenge to President Donald Trump’s 25% tariffs on foreign steel.

The case was brought by the American Institute for International Steel, which argued that the legal tool used by the President to impose the tariffs, known as Section 232, is unconstitutional.

It’s the second time the court refused to hear the case.

Congress has jurisdiction over trade, but it has delegated some of its power to the executive branch. Section 232 allows the President to impose tariffs in order to protect national security.

The trade group argued that Section 232 itself is unconstitutional because it puts no limits on the President’s discretion to put tariffs on imports.

Trump imposed the tariffs on foreign steel in March of 2018. They were meant to protect domestic steal producers by making their competitors’ products more expensive. But the duties ended up hurting US companies that import steel, like nail and farm equipment manufacturers, costing them money.

Trump has also threatened to use Section 232 to impose tariffs on foreign-made automobiles. He used a different power, known as Section 301, to impose tariffs on billions of dollars of Chinese-made goods. That legal power allows the executive branch to impose tariffs if it finds there are unfair trade barriers to US exports.