When the American Manufacturers of Multilayered Wood Flooring filed an appeal at the U.S. Court of International Trade challenging the final results of a U.S. Department of Commerce antidumping administrative review, the case was docketed under the number 1:20-cv-3948. It was the final lawsuit filed in 2020 and capped off a remarkable year at the Court. The Court of International Trade has not assigned a case number with four digits since 2001 and has not assigned a case number above 3,000 since 1998. In 2020, the Court assigned more case numbers (3,948) than it had in the previous decade combined (3,486).
Driven principally by challenges to actions taken by the last Administration to impose tariffs under Section 232 and Section 301 of the U.S. trade laws, the caseload now before the Court is well beyond anything it has confronted in twenty years:
Moreover, in response to the existing docket, the Court issued 189 slip opinions in 2020. This represents the largest number of slip opinions issued by the Court of International Trade since 2007:
Although most of the cases docketed with the Court will be resolved without the issuance of slip opinions, lawsuits docketed in 2020 have, as of the end of January 2021, already resulted in the publication of two slip opinions this year.
2021 promises to be a busy year for the Court of International Trade, and the volume of active cases currently on its docket likely poses significant challenges to the Court’s existing resources. At present, the Court has eight active judges, five senior judges, and three inactive senior judges while also being responsible for one of the fifty-three judicial vacancies that exist in federal courts across the country. With the current administration focused on confirmation of its new cabinet and the Senate facing a full spring calendar, there is a risk that this vacancy will take a backseat to other priorities, preventing the Court from returning to full capacity.