Dames & Moore v. Regan 453 U.S. 654 (1981) When Iranian revolutionaries took power and seized US hostages, President Carter invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and froze Iranian assets in the US. When the hostages were released in 1981, Treasury Secretary Regan affirmed the agreements made by administration that terminated all legal proceedings against the Iranian government and created an independent Claims Tribunal. (aka the Algerian Accord). o Basically, that meant that if someone had a claim against the Iranian government from before the revolution, they could not get their money in a US court. They would have to go to the independent Claims Tribunal in the Netherlands, and try to win their case there. o This was done via executive order. Dames & Moore attempted to recover over $3 million owed to it by the Iranian government and claimed the executive orders were beyond the scope of Presidential power. The US Supreme Court upheld the IEEPA. o There were two separate issues. Whether the President could transfer Iranian assets, and whether the President could suspend legal claims. o The Supreme Court found that IEEPA constituted a specific Congressional authorization for the President to order the transfer of Iranian assets. Compare this to the decision in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, where Congress specifically chose not to authorize a power to the President. o The Supreme Court also said that although the IEEPA itself did not authorize the Presidential suspension of legal claims, previous acts of Congress had implicitly approved of executive control of claim settlement. Project Wonderful - Your ad here, right now, for as low as $0 The Court emphasized the narrowness of its ruling, limiting the decision to the facts of the case. o The Supreme Court felt that Dames & Moore were not without legal recourse. They could always go to the independent Claims Tribunal and try to get their money there. And if they failed there, they may have a recoverable claim against the US. Even if Congress passed a Statute allowing the President to have this power, would it still be unconstitutional? It has been held numerous times that even when branches of government agree, there can still be Constitutional issues. o The Constitution is here to protect the American citizens from tyranny of their government. Even if Congress and the President conspire to override a Constitutional provision, that provision still exists. You can't change the Constitution except through the Constitutional amendment process. (see Buckley v. Valeo and New York v. United States) If Dames & Moore's judgment is considered property, isn't this a violation of the 5th Amendment, which forbids seizing private property without just compensation? If you follow this legal reasoning, then Dames & Moore would have a recoverable claim against the US. The President made an international agreement in the Algerian Accords. These accords directly impacted the release of US hostages. If, after the hostages had been released, the Courts had blocked the agreement made by the President, it would have considerably reduces the capability of the President to make international agreements. o This is not a legal argument, but it certainly was a factor. Sometimes, real politick takes precedent over legal arguments. This is probably the reason why the Court attempted to narrow the ruling, in a similar way to how they narrowed the ruling in Bush v. Gore. They were attempting to avoid establishing a legal precedent. o How does this case compare to Missouri v. Holland, in which a Treaty was allowed to override constitutional arguments? Of course, this wasn't a treaty, it was just an executive agreement. Executive agreements are not subject to ratification by the Senate. Executive agreements can't override laws previously passed by Congress. Although apparently in this case, they can override the Constitution!