United States Court of International Trade
Initially called the Board of General Appraisers, then renamed to the United States Customs Court and finally settled as the United States Court of International Trade this agency handles matters of international trade and customs. Congress established it under Article III of the Constitution.
Nine judges and some senior judges sit on the bench at the U.S. Court of International Trade. They are located in New York City but could have offices in other areas even outside of the country.
Resolving disputes related to customs or international trade law by providing unbiased, fair, timely, effective service interpreting the law, is the express mission of the U.S. Court of International Trade.
The first Board of General Appraisers was established by Congress in 1890 as a semi-judicial office working under the United States Department of the Treasury. This original entity had nine members appointed by the President, and their responsibility was to review decisions about the amount of duties paid on imports.
Performing the same functions, in 1926 Congress changed the name of the agency to United States Customs Court and made it an independent entity under Article I of the Constitution. This change was in response to the increasingly complex cases for customs and imports.
In 1928 Genevieve R. Cline, nominated by President Calvin Coolidge became the first female judge to sit on the bench. Despite opposition to her nomination, she was approved and took her seat in June of 1928.
Congress reverted the organization to an Article III agency in 1956, increased its jurisdictional power and, changed the name to United States Court of International Trade.
The U.S. Court of International Trade is extremely limited in the scope of matter they can hear. They are subject to specific cases involving particular customs and international trade laws such as the following:
- Trade Adjustment Assistance by the United States Department of Labor
- United States Department of Agriculture
- Customs broker licensing
- Disputes relating to determinations made by the United States
- International Trade Commission
- Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration regarding antidumping and countervailing duties.
Cases involving antidumping and countervailing in regards to the Mexican or Canadian borders will be heard by another agency with binational jurisdiction.
Unless the case is overly complicated and challenges the constitutionality of a U.S. trade law, then the cases are heard by a single judge. Otherwise, they are heard by a 3-judge panel.
Although self-maintained, the U.S. Court of International Trade patterns its standards and procedures after the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
The agency resides in the James L. Watson Court of International Trade Building on Foley Square in Manhattan, NY. This building is also known as 1 Federal Plaza.
Built in 1968, the building was dedicated to and named after James L. Watson in 2003. James Watson was a judge who served the U.S. Customs Court from 1964 to 1980 and then the U.S. International Trade Court from 1980 to 2001.