Supreme Court agrees to take up international trade fights involving NAFTA and steel import ban

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up the legal challenges to the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the dispute over a steel import ban and the Trump administration’s admission to…

Supreme Court agrees to take up international trade fights involving NAFTA and steel import ban

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up the legal challenges to the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, the dispute over a steel import ban and the Trump administration’s admission to a dispute involving trade disputes among Mexico, the United States and Canada.

In all cases, the justices indicated interest in the issues but stopped short of declaring their views. They will grant certiorari in each case and hear oral arguments in April.

The justices will consider whether the Environmental Protection Agency has authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks by defining the sources of such emissions. The justices will rule on that case in an opinion issued by late June. The Trump administration had agreed to the court’s unusual request to hear the case, but those considerations are likely to be overshadowed by the court’s argument over the immigration ban and the demand for a quick decision from the lower courts about a steep 25 percent tariff imposed on steel imported from Mexico.

“The principle reason for the court’s action on this high-profile case is an opportunity for us to review new and more recent policies of the Trump administration,” said two of the three justices who heard the steel import case as part of a 4-4 split vote last October, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Elena Kagan.

By blocking the import ban on steel imports, the appeals court ruled for the United Steelworkers union and other organized labor unions, which are represented by legal briefs. In addition, the Supreme Court in 2012 upheld a EPA rule to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicles.

If the justices find in favor of the union and its allies, the steel import case would be less urgent. Still, a ruling would likely impose costs on the industry that import steel from Mexico, Canada and other countries. The Trump administration has said a ruling in favor of the unions would undercut its efforts to reduce the amount of carbon produced in cars and trucks.

Separately, the justices will take up a dispute between Mexico and the United States over a proposed 25 percent tariff on Mexican steel. U.S. and Mexican officials are negotiating a new trade deal as has been set forth in a bilateral agreement.

The steel case also may have less immediate impact, as the Trump administration has come under attack from American steelmakers and their allies, including unions, for the previous administration’s efforts to persuade Mexico to revise its automobile import rules. The EU already has imposed retaliatory tariffs on American products, including orange juice and bourbon.

That dispute, and others facing the Trump administration, have raised the price for the justices when they decide cases that are not viewed as to the immediate personal benefit of the court or its nine members.

Last fall, during a 4-4 deadlock on steel imports, Sotomayor and Kagan asked that the Trump administration be allowed to ask the court to decide the issue in advance to reduce any complications that it would face if it wins its other cases, saying those issues are “not germane.”

The administration denied the court’s request, so the justices asked the same sort of detailed questions to the parties in the steel import case that they have asked so often in recent cases.

Unlike those public agency lawsuits, most of which the Supreme Court hears oral arguments and issues opinions in late June, the steel import dispute will not be reviewed by the nine justices until later in the year.

The case is Lester v. Japan Co., 18-355.

The steel import case, ArcelorMittal v. BDL, 17-4203.

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