Court backs Chinese firm in dispute with Obama

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that the Obama administration violated the law when it blocked a Chinese-owned company from buying four wind farms in Oregon over national security concerns.

President Obama in 2012 used a rarely invoked authority to prevent Ralls Corp. from buying the farms located on or near a naval training facility. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the decision deprived Ralls of its due-process rights under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.

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The judges said Ralls should be allowed to see the evidence the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States used to block the transaction, and should have the chance to respond to the allegations.

"Due process requires, at the least, that an affected party be informed of the official action, be given access to the unclassified evidence on which the official actor relied and be afforded an opportunity to rebut that evidence," the judges said.

The committee was formed in the 1970s to stop foreign transactions that could threaten national security. Its proceedings are highly secretive.

The panel recommended that Obama block the Ralls acquisitions, and he agreed. It was the first time since 1990 that the authority had been used.