The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the district court opinion in long running litigation which began when the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild originally sought judicial review of controversial import restrictions on ancient Cypriot and Chinese coins. This latest case was an action where the government sought to forfeit the Guild’s coins which were originally imported for purposes of that test case.
The initial round of litigation approved the State Department’s decision to impose the import restrictions under a very limited “ultra vires” review standard. Here, the Court ruled that the it could also assume major elements of the government’s case for forfeiture were established in that earlier decision. What is disconcerting is that in so doing, the Fourth Circuit panel completely glossed over the Guild’s primary argument— that the Court could not assume away major elements of the government’s case in the context of a forfeiture action which implicated the Guild’s 5th Amendment constitutional due process rights. This should be particularly troubling because how a court reviews executive action when constitutional rights are at stake was also at the heart of the same Court’s recent en banc (full court) rulings in the Trump travel ban cases. That raises the obvious question, are private property and due process rights somehow less important than other consititutional rights?
The Guild intends to seek rehearing to ask the Court to address this fundamental issue.