Constitutional Law - Court of International Trade Holds Article III Standing Not Required to Intervene in Existing Litigation - Canadian Wheat Board V. United States

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Constitutional Law--Court of International Trade Holds Article III Standing Not Required to Intervene in Existing Litigation--Canadian Wheat Board v. United States, 637 F. Supp. 2d 1329 (Ct. Int'l Trade 2009)

Article III of the United States Constitution (Article III) explicitly limits the jurisdiction of the federal courts to deciding only "cases" and "controversies." (1) Although the United States Supreme Court has interpreted Article III as implicitly requiring prospective parties to establish a basis for standing, it has provided no clear guidance as to what standing is constitutionally required of nonparties seeking to intervene in an existing litigation. (2) In Canadian Wheat Board v. United States, (3) the Court of International Trade considered whether a party seeking to intervene in an existing lawsuit must independently satisfy the standing requirements of Article III. (4) The Court of International Trade held that where a valid case or controversy exists between the remaining parties, an intervenor need not provide an independent basis for standing under Article III. (5)

The Canadian Wheat Board trio of decisions encompassed an international dispute between the United States and Canada over the imposition of import duties for alleged trade violations. (6) In 2002 and 2003, the United States Department of Commerce (Department) and the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) investigated the activities of the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) and concluded that the CWB was causing material injury to the domestic wheat industry by illegally selling subsidized wheat products for less than market value. (7) As a result, the Department issued Antidumping and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) orders against the CWB, imposing higher, punitive trade duties on all CWB wheat entries, past and present. (8) Although the Department revoked the AD/CVD orders in early 2006 when a NAFTA panel overturned the ITC's affirmative material injury determination, the Department refused to refund the trade duties imposed on those entries made prior to the revocation's effective date. (9)

On May 2, 2007, the Court of International Trade granted the CWB's request to enjoin further liquidation of its pre-2006 wheat entries until the issue of the contested trade duties could be resolved judicially. (10) In the subsequent lawsuit, the Court of International Trade granted summary judgment for the CWB, holding the refunding of such punitive trade duties proper where the basis for their imposition is invalidated. (11) At that time, the court also dismissed the Canadian government's claims as lacking requisite standing under Article III. (12) On September 1, 2009, on reconsideration of its previous holding, the Court of International Trade determined that, because a valid case or controversy existed between the United States and the CWB, the governments of Canada could properly intervene even though they lacked an independent basis for standing under Article III. (13)

As codified in Rule 24 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Rule 24), the ability of a nonparty to intervene in an existing lawsuit is a relatively recent legal development. (14) Rule 24 authorizes: (l) intervention of right by a party with an interest in the property or transaction at issue in the litigation, or (2) permissive intervention, at the court's discretion, where a party has a claim or defense in common with the main action. (15) From a policy standpoint, Rule 24 seeks to protect the interests of nonparties from adjudication without their participation, and to promote judicial efficiency by allowing for the resolution of an entire dispute in a single court action. (16) Generally, Article III requires that any party seeking redress before a federal court first establish a basis for its standing. (17) Nowhere in Rule 24, however, are prospective intervenors explicitly required to establish such a constitutional basis for standing. …