State v. United States Department of State, No. 20-35391

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtR. NELSON, Circuit Judge
Citation996 F.3d 552
Decision Date27 April 2021
Docket NumberNo. 20-35391
Parties STATE of Washington; State of California; State of Colorado; State of Connecticut; State of Delaware; District of Columbia; State of Hawaii; State of Illinois; State of Maine; State of Maryland; Commonwealth of Massachusetts; State of Michigan; State of Minnesota; State of New Jersey; State of New York; State of North Carolina; State of Oregon; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; State of Rhode Island; State of Vermont; Commonwealth of Virginia; State of New Mexico; State of Wisconsin, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE; Antony J. Blinken, in his official capacity as Secretary of State; Directorate of Defense Trade Controls; Mike Miller, in his official capacity as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade ; Sarah Heidema, in her official capacity as Director of Policy, Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy; United States Department of Commerce; Gina Raimondo, in her official capacity as Secretary of Commerce; Bureau of Industry and Security; Matthew S. Borman, in his official capacity as Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration; Cordell Hull, Defendants-Appellants, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. ; Fredric's Arms & Smiths, LLC, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.

996 F.3d 552

STATE of Washington; State of California; State of Colorado; State of Connecticut; State of Delaware; District of Columbia; State of Hawaii; State of Illinois; State of Maine; State of Maryland; Commonwealth of Massachusetts; State of Michigan; State of Minnesota; State of New Jersey; State of New York; State of North Carolina; State of Oregon; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; State of Rhode Island; State of Vermont; Commonwealth of Virginia; State of New Mexico; State of Wisconsin, Plaintiffs-Appellees,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE; Antony J. Blinken, in his official capacity as Secretary of State; Directorate of Defense Trade Controls; Mike Miller, in his official capacity as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense Trade ; Sarah Heidema, in her official capacity as Director of Policy, Office of Defense Trade Controls Policy; United States Department of Commerce; Gina Raimondo, in her official capacity as Secretary of Commerce; Bureau of Industry and Security; Matthew S. Borman, in his official capacity as Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration; Cordell Hull, Defendants-Appellants,

National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. ; Fredric's Arms & Smiths, LLC, Intervenor-Defendants-Appellees.

No. 20-35391

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

Argued and Submitted January 11, 2021 San Francisco, California
Filed April 27, 2021


Daniel Aguilar (argued) and Sharon Swingle, Appellate Staff, Civil Division, United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C., for Defendants-Appellants.

Brendan Selby (argued) and Kristin Beneski, Assistant Attorneys General; Jeffrey Rupert, Division Chief; Robert W. Ferguson, Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Seattle, Washington; Xavier Becerra, Attorney General; John W. Killeen, Deputy Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Sacramento, California; Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General; Grant T. Sullivan, Assistant Solicitor General; Office of the Attorney General, Denver, Colorado; William Tong, Attorney General; Maura Murphy Osborne, Assistant Attorney General; Kimberly Massicotte and Joseph Rubin ; Office of the Attorney General, Hartford, Connecticut; Kathleen Jennings, Attorney General; Christian Douglas Wright, Director of Impact Litigation; Jillian A. Lazar, Deputy Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Wilmington, Delaware; Karl A. Racine, Attorney General; Jacqueline R. Bechara, Appellate Litigation Fellow; Office of the Solicitor General, Washington, D.C.; Clare E. Connors, Attorney General; Robert T. Nakatsuji, Deputy Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Honolulu, Hawaii; Kawme Raoul, Attorney General; Kathryn Hunt Muse, Deputy Chief, Public Interest Division; Darren Kinkead, Assistant Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Chicago, Illinois; Aaron M. Frey, Attorney General; Susan P. Herman, Chief Deputy Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Augusta, Maine; Brian E. Frosh, Attorney General; Jeffrey P. Dunlap and Steven M. Sullivan ; Office of the Attorney General, Baltimore, Maryland; Maura Healey, Attorney General; Phoebe Fischer-Groban, Assistant Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Boston, Massachusetts; Dana Nessel, Attorney General; Joseph T. Froehlich, Assistant Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan; Keith Ellison, Attorney General; Jacob Campion, Assistant Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; Gurbir S. Grewal, Attorney General; Jeremy M. Feigenbaum, State Solicitor; Office of the Attorney General, Trenton, New Jersey; Hector Balderas, Attorney General; Nicholas M. Sydow, Civil Appellate Chief; Office of the Attorney General, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Letitia James, Attorney General; Daniela Nogueira, Assistant Attorney General; Steven C. Wu, Deputy Solicitor General; Office of the Attorney General, New York, New York; Joshua H. Stein, Attorney General; Sripriya Narasimhan, Deputy General Counsel; Department of Justice, Raleigh, North Carolina; Ellen F. Rosenblum, Attorney General; Carla Scott, Senior Assistant Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Portland, Oregon; Michael Kron, Special Counsel, Office of the Attorney General, Salem, Oregon; Joshua Shapiro, Attorney General; Jacob B. Boyer, Deputy Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Peter F. Neronha, Attorney General; Justin J. Sullivan, Special Assistant Attorney General; Office of the Attorney General, Providence, Rhode Island; T.J. Donovan, Attorney General; Benjamin D. Battles, Solicitor General; Office of the Attorney General, Montpelier, Vermont; Mark R. Herring, Attorney General; Samuel T. Towell, Deputy Attorney General, Civil Litigation; Office of the Attorney General, Richmond, Virginia; Joshua L. Kaul, Attorney General; Brian P. Keenan, Assistant Attorney General; Department of Justice Madison, Wisconsin; for Plaintiffs-Appellees.

Neal Kumar Katyal and Jo-Ann Tamila Sagar, Hogan Lovells US LLP, Washington, D.C., for Amicus Curiae Brady.

Before: Jay S. Bybee and Ryan D. Nelson, Circuit Judges, and Robert H. Whaley,* District Judge.

Dissent by Judge Whaley

R. NELSON, Circuit Judge:

996 F.3d 556

The U.S. Department of State ("DOS") and Department of Commerce appeal the district court's order granting the motion of 22 states and the District of Columbia to

996 F.3d 557

enjoin DOS's final rule removing 3D-printed guns and their associated files from the U.S. Munitions List. Because Congress expressly precluded review of the relevant agency actions here, we vacate the injunction and remand with instructions to dismiss.

I

A

In 1976, Congress authorized the President to "designate those items which shall be considered defense articles" and "to promulgate regulations for the import and export of such articles." International Security Assistance and Arms Export Control Act of 1976 ("Control Act"), Pub. L. No. 94-329, § 212(a)(1), 90 Stat. 729, 744 (codified at 22 U.S.C. § 2778(a)(1) ). The President subsequently delegated his authority to the Secretary of State. Administration of Arms Export Controls, Exec. Order No. 11,958, 42 Fed. Reg. 4,311 (Jan. 18, 1977) ; see also 22 C.F.R. § 120.1(a). In turn, DOS promulgated and updated the International Traffic in Arms Regulations ("ITAR") to control the licensing, export, and import of defense articles. See generally 22 C.F.R. §§ 120–130. When DOS designates an item as a defense article, it is placed on the U.S. Munitions List ("Munitions List") and regulated by the ITAR. 22 U.S.C. § 2778(a)(1). The ITAR also regulates a defense article's associated technical data. 22 C.F.R. §§ 120.6, 120.10(a)(1), (4).

Congress did not define when an item qualifies as a "defense article." Instead, it delegated this decision to the President. See 22 U.S.C. § 2778(f)(5)(C) (explaining a "defense article" is "an item designated by the President" as such); 22 C.F.R. § 120.6 (defining "[d]efense article" as "any item ... designated in" the Munitions List by the President). True, the President must exercise this designation authority "[i]n furtherance of world peace and the security and foreign policy of the United States." 22 U.S.C. § 2778(a)(1). But the point at which an item becomes a "defense article" is within the President's sole discretion. Not surprisingly, some courts have historically rejected suits challenging designation decisions as nonjusticiable political questions. See, e.g. , United States v. Martinez , 904 F.2d 601 (11th Cir. 1990).

In 1981, Congress added a provision to the Control Act requiring the President to give notice to several congressional committees 30 days "before any item is removed from the Munitions List." International Security and Development Cooperation Act of 1981, Pub. L. No. 97-113, § 107, 95 Stat. 1519, 1522 (codified as amended at 22 U.S.C. § 2778(f)(1) ). So long as the President provides this notice, whether to remove an item from the Munitions List is still within his discretion. See id.

In 1989, Congress added an additional wrinkle at the heart of this appeal: "The designation ... of items as defense articles ... shall not be subject to judicial review." Anti-Terrorism and Arms Export Amendments Act of 1989, Pub. L. No. 101-222, § 6, 103 Stat. 1892, 1899 (codified at 22 U.S.C. § 2778(h) ).

B

The Department of Commerce ("Commerce") is empowered to regulate non-Munitions List items under the Export Control Reform Act ("Reform Act"). See 50 U.S.C. § 4801 et seq. These items are placed on the Commerce Control List ("CCL"), id. § 4813(a), subject to regulation under the Export Administration Regulations

996 F.3d 558

("EAR"),1 see generally 15 C.F.R. § 730 et seq. Congress similarly gave Commerce broad discretion in deciding which items to place on the CCL. Commerce must only use its authority to "further significantly the foreign policy of the United States," "fulfill its declared international obligations," and limit exports making a "significant contribution to the military potential of any other country" or "prov[ing] detrimental to ... national security." 50 U.S.C. § 4811(1). Congress also exempted Commerce's "functions exercised under [the Reform Act]" from review under the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"). Id. § 4821(a).

...

To continue reading

Request your trial
7 practice notes
  • Norbert v. City & Cnty. of S.F., s. 20-15341
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 26 Agosto 2021
    ...10 F.4th 936 preliminary injunction stage, we review the district court's factual findings for clear error. State v. U.S. Dep't of State , 996 F.3d 552, 560 (9th Cir. 2021). In this case, the record amply supports the district court's factual determinations about the lack of compelling medi......
  • Jones v. Bonta, 20-56174
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 11 Mayo 2022
    ...and "factual findings for clear error," we also review "the underlying legal conclusions de novo." Washington v. U.S. Dep't of State , 996 F.3d 552, 560 (9th Cir. 2021). If "the district court relied on an erroneous legal premise," then it abused its discretion. Fyock v. Sunnyvale , 779 F.3......
  • Def. Distributed v. Bruck, 21-50327
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 1 Abril 2022
    ...the Third and Ninth Circuits, see Defense Distributed v. Att'y Gen of N.J., 972 F.3d 193 (3d Cir. 2020); State v. U.S. Dep't of State, 996 F.3d 552 (9th Cir. 2021). [4] Cf. Response Brief of Defendant-Appellee Ken Paxton in His Official Capacity as Attorney General of Texas at 10-11, Twitte......
  • Norbert v. City of San Francisco, 20-15341
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 26 Agosto 2021
    ...CJ5. At the preliminary injunction stage, we review the district court's factual findings for clear error. State v. U.S. Dep't of State, 996 F.3d 552, 560 (9th Cir. 2021). In this case, the record amply supports the district court's factual determinations about the lack of compelling medica......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
7 cases
  • Norbert v. City & Cnty. of S.F., s. 20-15341
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 26 Agosto 2021
    ...10 F.4th 936 preliminary injunction stage, we review the district court's factual findings for clear error. State v. U.S. Dep't of State , 996 F.3d 552, 560 (9th Cir. 2021). In this case, the record amply supports the district court's factual determinations about the lack of compelling medi......
  • Jones v. Bonta, 20-56174
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 11 Mayo 2022
    ...and "factual findings for clear error," we also review "the underlying legal conclusions de novo." Washington v. U.S. Dep't of State , 996 F.3d 552, 560 (9th Cir. 2021). If "the district court relied on an erroneous legal premise," then it abused its discretion. Fyock v. Sunnyvale , 779 F.3......
  • Def. Distributed v. Bruck, 21-50327
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • 1 Abril 2022
    ...the Third and Ninth Circuits, see Defense Distributed v. Att'y Gen of N.J., 972 F.3d 193 (3d Cir. 2020); State v. U.S. Dep't of State, 996 F.3d 552 (9th Cir. 2021). [4] Cf. Response Brief of Defendant-Appellee Ken Paxton in His Official Capacity as Attorney General of Texas at 10-11, Twitte......
  • Norbert v. City of San Francisco, 20-15341
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 26 Agosto 2021
    ...CJ5. At the preliminary injunction stage, we review the district court's factual findings for clear error. State v. U.S. Dep't of State, 996 F.3d 552, 560 (9th Cir. 2021). In this case, the record amply supports the district court's factual determinations about the lack of compelling medica......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT