United States District Court, E.D. Wisconsin
GARY L. BARNES, Plaintiff,
DONALD J. TRUMP, Respondent.
GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS COMPLAINT (DKT.
NO. 11), DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR EX PARTE
INJUNCTION (DKT. NO. 6), DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANT'S
MOTION TO STAY PROCEEDINGS (DKT. NO. 7) AND DENYING AS MOOT
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO AMEND REPLY (DKT. NO. 15)
PAMELA PEPPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
5, 2018, Gary L. Barnes, representing himself, filed a
complaint against President Donald J. Trump, alleging that
the President has imposed illegal and unconstitutional
tariffs on imported goods. Dkt. No. 1. The defendant filed a
notice of appearance on July 30, 2018. Dkt. No. 3. On August
15, 2018, the plaintiff filed a motion for ex parte
injunction. Dkt. No. 6. The defendant did not respond to this
motion, instead filing a motion to stay proceedings until the
defendant could file a motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 7. On
September 25, 2018, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Dkt. No. 11. The
plaintiff responded to that motion, dkt. no. 13, and then
asked the court to allow him to amend his response, dkt. no.
15. The court grants the defendant's motion to dismiss
and denies the remaining motions as moot.
Allegations in the Complaint
plaintiff's complaint lists several tariffs that the
defendant had imposed on certain goods. Dkt. No. 1 at 3-4
(listing tariffs on Canadian lumber, solar panel technology,
washing machines, steel and aluminum, and “Chinese
products”). The plaintiff alleges that the United
States Constitution does not allow the defendant to impose
these tariffs and that they are harmful to businesses and
citizens. Dkt. No. 1 at 4-5. Specifically, the plaintiff
argues that neither the United States Constitution nor the
Trade Act of 1974 authorize the defendant to enact these
tariffs. Id. The plaintiff asserts that he has
standing to challenge these tariffs because he is a citizen
of the United States with the First Amendment right to
“petition the government for a redress of
grievances.” Id. at 9. For relief, the
plaintiff asks the court to rule that the defendant lacks the
authority to impose taxes on foreign goods or to regulate
commerce. Id. at 11. He also seeks a preliminary
injunction to end the collection of tariffs, and asks the
court to enjoin the defendant from imposing additional
tariffs. Id. at 12.
plaintiff claims that the court has federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §1331, and the power to
compel an officer to perform a duty owed to the plaintiff
under 28 U.S.C. §1361. Id. at 2.
Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 11)
defendant asks the court to dismiss the complaint for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Dkt.
No. 11. In his brief, the defendant argues that the Court of
International Trade has exclusive subject matter jurisdiction
over challenges to the tariffs at issue. Dkt. No. 12 at 9. He
says that the Court of International Trade's
jurisdictional statute, 28 U.S.C. §1581, creates
broad-based jurisdiction in that court on tariff-related
claims and says that the plaintiff's claims fall within
the statute. Id. (citing K-Mart v. Cartier,
485 U.S. 176, 182-83 (1988)).
defendant also asserts that the plaintiff lacks Article III
standing. Id. at 13. The defendant notes that the
plaintiff does not claim that he has bought, sold or imported
any of the products listed in the complaint; in other words,
he has not shown how these tariffs have caused him
injury-in-fact. Id. at 14. The defendant contends
that being a concerned United States citizen does not
automatically confer Article III standing on that citizen.
Id. at 14 (citing Valley Forge Christian Coll.
v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State,
Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 482-83 (1982)). The defendant asks
the court to dismiss the case, rather than transferring it to
the Court of International Trade.
Plaintiff's Response (Dkt. No. 13)
plaintiff maintains that this court has jurisdiction over his
complaint under 28 U.S.C. §§1331 and 1361. Dkt. No.
13 at 1. He asks the court to deny the defendant's motion
and either allow the case to proceed in the district court or
reassign it to the Court of International Trade. Id.
at 2. Two weeks later, the plaintiff asked to amend his
response, citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(A). Dkt. No. 15. In
his proposed amended response, the plaintiff cites a
“Cure of Defects” provision from the Customs
Courts Act of 1980. Id. at 2. The plaintiff alleges
that this provision stated that when a civil action within
the exclusive jurisdiction of the Court of International
Trade is commenced in a district court, the district court
shall transfer the action to the Court of International
Trade. Id. (citing “Rules of the Court of
International Trade state, in Public Law 96-417 (Oct. 10,
asking permission to do so, the plaintiff also filed a
supplemental response to the motion to dismiss. Dkt. No. 16. He
argued that his complaint was an “internal grievance,
” challenging the defendant's authority to levy
tariffs. Dkt. No. 16 at 1-2. He indicated that his case
should not go to the Court of International Trade, because
that court “does not get involved with suits that
encompass the internal workings of the government.”
Id. at 2. The defendant asserts that the supplement
raised no new arguments affecting the defendant's
position on this court's lack of subject-matter
jurisdiction. Dkt. No. 17.