Jack Balkin: jackbalkin at yahoo.com
Bruce Ackerman bruce.ackerman at yale.edu
Ian Ayres ian.ayres at yale.edu
Corey Brettschneider corey_brettschneider at brown.edu
Mary Dudziak mary.l.dudziak at emory.edu
Joey Fishkin joey.fishkin at gmail.com
Heather Gerken heather.gerken at yale.edu
Abbe Gluck abbe.gluck at yale.edu
Mark Graber mgraber at law.umaryland.edu
Stephen Griffin sgriffin at tulane.edu
Jonathan Hafetz jonathan.hafetz at shu.edu
Jeremy Kessler jkessler at law.columbia.edu
Andrew Koppelman akoppelman at law.northwestern.edu
Marty Lederman msl46 at law.georgetown.edu
Sanford Levinson slevinson at law.utexas.edu
David Luban david.luban at gmail.com
Gerard Magliocca gmaglioc at iupui.edu
Jason Mazzone mazzonej at illinois.edu
Linda McClain lmcclain at bu.edu
John Mikhail mikhail at law.georgetown.edu
Frank Pasquale pasquale.frank at gmail.com
Nate Persily npersily at gmail.com
Michael Stokes Paulsen michaelstokespaulsen at gmail.com
Deborah Pearlstein dpearlst at yu.edu
Rick Pildes rick.pildes at nyu.edu
David Pozen dpozen at law.columbia.edu
Richard Primus raprimus at umich.edu
K. Sabeel Rahmansabeel.rahman at brooklaw.edu
Alice Ristroph alice.ristroph at shu.edu
Neil Siegel siegel at law.duke.edu
David Super david.super at law.georgetown.edu
Brian Tamanaha btamanaha at wulaw.wustl.edu
Nelson Tebbe nelson.tebbe at brooklaw.edu
Mark Tushnet mtushnet at law.harvard.edu
Adam Winkler winkler at ucla.edu
There are media reports that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is considering a lawsuit challenging the President's proposed tariffs against Mexico. I hope they do so. They have a good chance of winning. In this case, the Administration has no clothes.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which is the statutory authority cited by the President, grants two types of authority. One gives the President the power to freeze the assets of foreign nationals and/or foreign governments. The other gives the President the power to suspend commerce (or types of commerce) with another nation. Nothing in the Act suggests that the President is given the power to levy tariffs on another nation. Indeed, there are many reasons to doubt that such a power exists.
First, Congress has delegated tariff authority in other statutes that do not apply here. For instance, the President can (and has) imposed tariffs on China in response to unfair trade practices based on clear statutory authority. The lack of such an express delegation in the IEEPA implies no tariff authority.
Second, there appears to be no precedent for a President using the IEEPA to impose tariffs. (I say appears because I cannot find an example. If there is one, then I would like to know.)
Third, there is no indication from the legislative history of the IEEPA that Congress intended to give the President the authority to raise tariffs.
Fourth, there is no judicial authority for the President's proposed tariffs. Moreover, the Supreme Court's careful analysis of the IEEPA in Dames & Moore v. Regan is considerably narrower than the President's view.
The argument in favor of the proposed Mexican tariffs is basically a crude kind of a fortiori logic. Because the President can ban commerce from Mexico under the IEEPA, he must be able to impose the lesser sanction of tariffs. The conclusion does not follow from the premise. The greater does not always imply the lesser, as Congress is not bound to delegate its authority that way. Indeed, Congress might well guard its taxing authority far more jealously because that authority is easier to exercise as compared to a commercial ban.