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. (18)

A federal circuit split has developed over whether a party satisfying Rule 24's intervention requirements must also meet the standing requirements of Article III. (19) The Supreme Court has yet to resolve the split, explicitly refusing to do so, for lack of necessity, in Diamond v. Charles (20) The Diamond Court did hold, however, that where a case or controversy no longer exists among the remaining parties, a would-be intervenor may not "piggyback" on the original standing of a party no longer joined. (21)

The Courts of Appeals for the Second, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Circuits have generally held that an independent basis for Article III standing is not required of an intervenor where a case or controversy exists between the remaining parties. (22) These courts reason that once the original parties establish their basis for standing, a court's jurisdiction vests and, so long as a case or controversy remains, the proper addition of Rule 24 intervenors does not implicate Article III. (23) Conversely, the Courts of Appeals for the Seventh, Eighth and D.C. Circuits have denied intervention unless the requesting party can provide an independent basis for standing in addition to satisfying Rule 24's requirements. (24) This minority reasons that the intervention of any party lacking Article III standing spoils an established case or controversy before a court. (25) Furthermore, those circuits have recognized that because intervention seeks to place all parties on "equal footing" in court, it would be inequitable not to require an independent basis for standing from every party, regardless of when or how they joined the suit. (26)

In Canadian Wheat Board v. United States, the Court of International Trade sought to resolve the conflict over whether Article III implicitly requires standing of all parties before a court, including would-be intervenors. (27) Recognizing that the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (Federal Circuit) had yet to resolve the issue, the Court of International Trade weighed the reasoning both for and against requiring independent standing of all intervenors. (28) In particular, the Court of International Trade concurred with the Fifth Circuit's reasoning that a court's jurisdictional analysis ends once a case or controversy is established and the subsequent presence of intervening parties lacking standing does not disturb its jurisdiction. (29) Inferring the Supreme Court would hold similarly, the Court of International Trade sided with the circuit majority and held an intervenor need not independently satisfy Article III's standing requirements where a case or controversy is already present. (30)

Applying that holding to the facts at hand, the Court of International Trade ultimately determined that the governments of Canada could properly join as plaintiff-intervenors. (31) Because there was an existing case or controversy between the CWB and the United States, the court reasoned that if the governments of Canada satisfied Rule 24's requirements, they could join regardless of Article III standing. (32) After evaluating their arguments for permissive intervention, the Court of International Trade concluded that the governments of Canada had asserted claims for relief identical to those of the CWB, and that their addition would not unduly burden the Department, the United States, the CWB or the court. (33) The court thus held that even though the governments of Canada lacked an independent basis for...

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