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CIT Judge Questions Why Constitutional Claims at Trade Court Can't Be Appealed to SCOTUS

Judge Stephen Vaden of the Court of International Trade said he did not understand why CIT cases involving presidential decisions or constitutional claims are not allowed direct appeals to the Supreme Court. Speaking March 8 on the "Original Jurisdiction" podcast, Vaden detailed the way constitutional claims are heard at CIT and explained how they are different from other federal courts.

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The judge said that prior to the mid-1980s, cases involving constitutional claims were allowed to be directly appealed to the Supreme Court, but Congress changed this system because it would give the high court too much work. However, the trade court is governed by a different statute that requires the court to convene a three-judge panel to hear such claims. Current panels exist to hear cases over Section 232 and Section 301 actions.

"The unique thing about it is that you do not get a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, which I don't understand, given how the statutory scheme has worked previously," Vaden said. "Instead, you get three judges from us, and you get three more judges from the [Court of Appeals for the] Federal Circuit. But we are required to do it. Our statute hasn't been changed, and we follow the law."

Vaden further detailed the work before the court and his personal history, on the podcast, going through his time as general counsel at the Department of Agriculture under President Donald Trump and his later nomination to the court. The judge added that he had not read a CIT opinion during law school but was talked into accepting the nomination to the trade court by classmates and peers, many of whom sit on various appellate courts.