Diggs v. Schultz Historic Case

At a Glance

Case Description 

Diggs v. Schultz is a lawsuit brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) to invalidate the Byrd Amendment. It was brought on behalf of the Black Congressional Caucus and other groups, including Zimbabwean exiles in this country.

In flagrant violation of a United Nations Security Council resolution which it had supported, establishing an embargo on trade with Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), Congress passed a special resolution (the Byrd Amendment) permitting the United States to import Rhodesian chrome, that country’s most important export.

Although the litigation was ultimately unsuccessful in reversing the Byrd Amendment, its impact was large. Rulings in the case broadened access to the courts in situations of this kind, and the court of appeals held that while it could not overrule the Byrd Amendment, allowing the U.S. to import chrome from Rhodesia, it found that Congress had, in passing it, violated international law.