A Proposal to Abolish the U.S. Court of International Trade

01 Jan 1985

In 1980 Congress enacted the Customs Courts Act of 1980, a law designed to "improve the Federal judicial machinery by clarifying and revising certain provisions of title 28, United States Code, relating to the judiciary and judicial review of international trade matters." Among the revisions enacted was the enlargement of the jurisdiction of the United States Customs Court, renamed the United States Court of International Trade ("CIT") over most actions involving import transactions into the United States. Born out of a legislative concern that litigants were bring frustrated in their attempts to obtain judicial review, the Customs Courts Act of 1980 sought to remedy this problem "by revising the statutes to clarify the present status, jurisdiction and powers of the Customs Court."

Now that five years have passed since enactment of the Customs Courts Act, it merits a preliminary inquiry whether that Act has achieved its purposes and whether there is any continuing justification for the CIT as a forum for dispute resolution. This article explores these questions and concludes that the administration of justice would be better served of the Court were abolished. This article proposes substituting either a system of administrative adjudication with direct appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or, in certain instances, transferring jurisdiction to the federal district courts. Before discussing this issue, the history of the CIT will be briefly reviewed.