Law School Resources
Dames & Moore
v. Regan 453 U.S. 654 (1981)
In reaction to the seizure of the U.S.
embassy and American nationals in Iran, President Jimmy Carter
invoked the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)
and froze Iranian assets in the United States. When the hostages
were released in 1981, Treasury Secretary Donald Regan affirmed
the agreements made by the Carter administration that terminated
all legal proceedings against the Iranian government and created
an independent Claims Tribunal. 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
Does the president have the authority to
transfer Iranian funds and to nullify legal claims against Iran?
The Court held that the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act constituted a specific
congressional authorization for the President to order the
transfer of Iranian assets. The Court further held 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. The Court
emphasized the narrowness of its ruling, limiting the decision
to the facts of the case.
This decision has been criticized for
applying a too‐undemanding
standard to the question of presidential power, in particular by
relying on inferences from statutes that do not directly deal
with certain subjects at hand and, especially, on legislative
acquiescence in executive activity. On any view, this decision
is an important recognition of broad presidential power in
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