13(a) and 13(c) were insufficient to overcome the strong presumption in favor of reviewability of challenges to the statutory authority of agency actions.20

Although Dart arose out of an agency enforcement proceeding, the court's rationale for allowing judicial review in ultra vires situations seems equally applicable to all administrative functions taken under the EAA. It appears that no court has had occasion to apply Dart in the context of a nonenforcement administrative action, but commentators have argued that the Dart holding should not be limited to the enforcement context.21

It is important to note the limits of the Dart holding. The court made clear that not every agency deviation from the provisions of its enabling statute will give rise to an opportunity for judicial review. Rather, review will be proper only when the agency has violated the statute "on its face," that is, "there must be a specific provision of the Act which, although it is clear and mandatory, was nevertheless violated."22 Thus, judicial review on ultra vires grounds will not be available when the dispute is merely ''over statutory interpretation or challenged findings of fact."23

Although it is likely that exporters may obtain judicial review of Department of Commerce actions when the actions in question were facially outside the statutory authority granted by the EAA, this form of judicial review is less valuable to exporters than one might expect. When a court determines that a particular agency action was ultra vires, the court will not grant substantive relief to the exporter by entering a final judgment on the claim.24 Rather, the court will only remand the case to the agency with instructions to proceed within the bounds of the statute. Therefore, an exporter could wage a long and expensive court battle to have a Commerce decision vacated as ultra vires, only to have the agency again rule against the exporter, albeit in a different, procedurally correct manner.25

Finally, an exporter may be able to obtain judicial review of Commerce Department action despite EAA Section 13(a) by claiming that the agency action in question violates the exporter's constitutional rights. While Section 13(a) of the EAA precludes judicial review under the APA, the EAA does not purport to limit review under other statutes. Thus, it seems that the EAA would not prevent a constitutional challenge to Commerce action brought under the federal courts' statutory "federal question" jurisdiction.26 Aggrieved exporters have raised constitutional challenges to Commerce enforcement actions on at least two reported occasions,27 but no court has yet addressed those arguments.

The instances in which an exporter will be able to assert a constitutional challenge to Commerce Department action under the EAA will be relatively rare.28 Because there is no general constitutional right to engage in international trade, and because agency regulation of commercial activity will seldom implicate individual civil liberties,29 constitutional issues are most likely to arise in the setting of an enforcement action, when the potential for



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement