Beacon Products Corp. v. Reagan – International Law – CCR Docket 1985-1986

In May I985 President Reagan signed an executive order announcing a trade embargo against Nicaragua. In his mes­sage to Congress, Reagan claimed that Nicaragua constituted a threat to the foreign policy interests and security of the United States.

The Treasury Department issued regulations prohibiting almost all imports of Nicaraguan products to the U.S. and restricting the export of certain goods to Nicaragua. The embargo does not prevent humanitarian aid or the sending of money to Nicaragua.

In June 1985, the CCR filed a suit in federal court in Mas­sachusetts, challenging the embargo. Plaintiffs include Joseph Sholkin and his company, Beacon Products Corp., which holds a contract with Nicaragua to export molds for plastic manufacturing. Another plaintiff is the Thanksgiving Coffee Co., which has a contract to import from Nicaragua 37,000 pound s of coffee a month.

The challenge includes claims that: I) there was no emer­gency justifying the President’s embargo; 2) the statute used to justify the embargo, the National Emergencies Act, is unconstitutional on the basis of an earlier Supreme Court decision;  3) the President’s termination of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation was effected without Senate consent.

Plaintiffs plan to move for summary judgment and the government announced that it will file a motion to dismiss.

Michael Ratner, Margaret Ratner, with CCR cooperating attorney Jules Lobel, and Jonathan Shapiro