The Gambling dispute has been great for opportunities to raise WTO law in domestic law. Here's another example, from the Imega vs. Gonzalez decision, issued this past week by the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, which involved a complaint against the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006:
C. WTO Claims (Counts IV, V)
The plaintiff alleges that UIGEA is void because it is ultra vires of, and otherwise inconsistent with, the foreign trade obligations of the United States. But prudential standing considerations bar judicial review here. Although some treaty obligations may create a private cause of action, see Sanchez-Llamas v. Oregon, 126 S.Ct. 2669, 2680 (2006) (assuming, but not deciding, truth of proposition), that is not the case as to the Uruguay Round Agreements at issue here. Indeed, the statute pertaining to the Uruguay Round Agreements precludes private actions: only the United States "may challenge ... [an] action or inaction by [a] department, agency, or other instrumentality of the United States ... on the ground that such action or inaction is inconsistent with [the Uruguay Round Agreements.]" 19 U.S.C. § 3512(c)(1)(B). The economic rights of private individuals are thus not within the "zone of interests intended to be protected by" the Uruguay Round Agreements. Oxford Assoc., 271 F.3d at 146. The plaintiff, as it has no cause of action under the WTO, cannot satisfy prudential standing as to its WTO claims.
Even if the Court were to consider the merits of the WTO claims, UIGEA "which was enacted in 2006" would trump any obligations arising under the 1994 Uruguay Round Agreements. See 19 U.S.C. § 3512(a)(1) ("[n]o provision of any of the Uruguay Round Agreements ... that is inconsistent with any law of the United States shall have effect"); see, e.g., Tag v. Rogers, 267 F.2d 664, 667 (D.C. Cir. 1959) ("has long been established that treaties and statutes are on the same level and, accordingly, that the latest action expresses the controlling law"). Also, WTO decisions are "not binding on the United States, much less this court." Corus Staal BV v. Dep't of Commerce, 395 F.3d 1343, 1348 (Fed. Cir. 2005) (quotes and cite omitted). The plaintiff's WTO claims would thus fail as a matter of law.
This decision doesn't seem to break any new ground, but rather just repeats various reasons why the court doesn't want to accept a defense based on WTO obligations. Also, since this claim dealt with the UIEGA, it was more difficult to raise WTO obligations then some other cases, as the UIEGA was not part of the WTO claim.