Catholic University Law Review


On August 17, 2018, CNN reported that Lockheed Martin manufactured a bomb that killed dozens of Yemeni schoolchildren in Northern Yemen. Saudi Arabia purchased the bomb in an arms deal authorized under the Arms Export Control Act, the statute in which Congress delegates to the President authority to control the import and export of arms. Under the Act, the President must comply with reporting and waiting periods allowing time for Congress to oppose a sale by enacting a joint resolution. However, the Act allows the President to sell arms in an emergency without notice or waiting periods. President Trump invoked that authority in 2019, to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, a transaction Congress opposed. This raises questions about the efficacy of the Act itself. Specifically, given Supreme Court precedent, past practice, and exceptions to the Act, there is some doubt as to whether Congress would in practice be able to halt a sale. This comment explores that question, and employs Justice Jackson’s Steel Seizure Concurrence as a framework. Although Congress likely possesses authority to halt a sale, I consider the legacy of Congress’ decision to delegate authority, and note the complexities emergency provisions and Supreme Court precedent create.