U.S. District Court Judge Rejects Huawei’s Claims Involving the National Defense Authorization Act

On Tuesday, February 18, 2020, United States District Court Judge Amos L. Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas denied Huawei Technologies USA, Inc.’s motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit challenging the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”). Huawei, a Chinese telecommunications equipment maker, challenged the constitutionality of Section 889 of the NDAA, which prevents federal agencies and their contractors from utilizing Huawei’s equipment and services. Judge Mazzant granted the U.S. Government’s motion for summary judgment, concluding that Congress acted appropriately within its powers.

Huawei asserted three (3) challenges to Section 889 of the NDAA: (1) the law violates the Bill of Attainder Clause; (2) the law violates the Due Process Clause; and (3) the law violates the Vesting Clauses. First, with regard to the Bill of Attainder Clause challenge, Judge Mazzant applied the two-prong test of SBC Commc’ns, Inc. v. FCC, 154 F.3d 226 (5th Cir. 1998), finding that Congress acted with specificity and did not impose punishment in enacting Section 889 of the NDAA. After a lengthy analysis of multiple other tests concerning the Bill of Attainder Clause, Judge Mazzant addressed the Due Process Clause claim, finding that the law “is rationally related to a legitimate congressional purpose and thus does not violate Huawei’s due process rights.” Finally, Judge Mazzant found Huawei’s Vesting Clauses challenge insufficient because “[Section 889 of the NDAA] does nothing to prevent the other two branches of government from performing their vested constitutional functions.”

Earlier this week, Huawei and two of its subsidiaries were charged with federal racketeering and conspiracy charges. Despite its small footprint in the U.S. market, Huawei is the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment maker.

Additional Reading

Court Rejects Huawei’s Challenge to U.S. Limits, The New York Times (February 19, 2020)

Memorandum Opinion and Order in Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. et al v. United States of America, et al (Case 4:19-cv-00159-ALM)

Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. et al v. United States of America, et al (Case 4:19-cv-00159-ALM)

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