Federal Judge Rules Huawei Federal Ban Constitutional

A Federal judge ruled Feb. 18 that Congress has the authority to ban Federal agencies and contractors from doing business with Chinese communications equipment maker Huawei.

In his 57-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant rejected Huawei’s claim that Section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) infringed on Huawei’s constitutional rights and harmed both its existing and future business. Mazzant said, “the court finds Huawei’s arguments unpersuasive.”

His ruling further explained that “contracting with the Federal government is a privilege, not a constitutionally guaranteed right – at least not as far as this court is aware.”

Addressing Huawei’s claim that the ban harms its existing and future business, Mazzant said that Huawei can “still conduct business with every other company and individual in America as well as the remaining 169 countries and regions it currently does business with throughout the world.”

Huawei, unsurprisingly, was displeased with the outcome. In a statement, a company spokesperson said, “While we understand the paramount significance of national security, the approach taken by the U.S. Government in the 2019 NDAA provides a false sense of protection while undermining Huawei’s constitutional rights.” The spokesperson noted that Huawei “will continue to consider further legal options.”

In addition to the NDAA ban, Congress has taken other steps to counter Huawei, which it considers a national security risk because of its close ties to the Chinese government. The Senate is currently working on a bill that would create a Supply Chain Security Trust Fund that would be used by the Federal Communications Commission to provide funding for service providers to replace network gear from China-based suppliers Huawei and ZTE. U.S.-based communications service providers with less than six million customers would be eligible to use the funding to replace equipment purchased prior to August 2018.

Congress has also urged other governments to stop using Huawei products on their networks. Earlier this month, House Republicans introduced a resolution condemning a decision by the British government to allow China-based network equipment maker Huawei a limited role in 5G networks being built out in the United Kingdom. The House resolution calls on the British government to reject or amend the decision on allowing high-risk vendors like Huawei to provide products and services for U.K. 5G networks.

Kate Polit
About Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk's Assistant Copy & Production Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.

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