Feb. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Ralls Corp. can continue arguing that President Barack Obama should explain his order for it to sell a wind farm project in Oregon on national security grounds even though it can’t challenge his authority to require a sale, a federal judge decided.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington ruled yesterday that “a due process claim that raises purely legal questions about the process” can proceed.
Jackson threw out the bulk of Ralls’s lawsuit against the Obama administration, which focused on whether the president exceeded his power by ordering the company, an affiliate of China’s Sany Group Co., to sell the wind farm assets.
“The statute expressly authorizes the president to do what he deems necessary to accomplish or implement the prohibition -- not merely to issue it,” Jackson wrote.
Jackson said that even though Ralls is entitled to continue making its case for an explanation for the forced sale, she may decide that “the opportunities provided to the plaintiff here comported with due process, or the plaintiff is not entitled to the reasons.”
Tim Xia, a spokesman for Ralls, said the ruling kept alive “Ralls’ primary claim that the presidential order violated constitutional due process. We look forward to litigating this matter on the merits and vindicating the rule of law.”
The U.S. Treasury Department coordinates the multi-agency Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States, or CFIUS, that initially barred the wind farm project.
“We are reviewing the decision,” Holly Shulman, a Treasury spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We continue to believe the lawsuit has no merit, and we will continue to defend the case vigorously.”
Obama’s Sept. 28 order requiring Ralls to divest the wind farm assets was the first time in 22 years a president has blocked a transaction on national security grounds.
Ralls was seeking to place Sany-made wind turbines at the Oregon installations after purchasing land and other rights in early 2012. The assets include four locations, three of which are near, and one is within, restricted Navy airspace, according to the Treasury Department.
The case is Ralls Corp. v. Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., 1:12-cv-01513, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).
--With assistance from Tom Schoenberg in Washington. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha