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Dames & Moore v. Regan, Secretary of the Treasury

United States Supreme Court
453 U.S. 654 (1981)


On November 4, 1979, the Iranian hostage crisis began when the American Embassy in Tehran, Iran was seized. In response, President Carter, acting pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), issued an executive order that froze all Iranian assets in the United States. On January 20, 1981, the Americans held hostage by Iran were released pursuant to an agreement reached between the United States and Iran. The agreement stated that the government of each country would seek to end all litigation between itself and nationals of the other country by reaching binding settlement agreements. A new Iran-United States claims tribunal was established to facilitate settlements. On April 28, 1981, Dames & Moore (plaintiff) filed this action in district court against the United States Government and Secretary of the Treasury (defendant) seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent enforcement of executive orders and Treasury Department regulations implementing the new agreement with Iran. Dames & Moore argued that the executive branch exceeded its constitutional powers in making such an agreement, and that the agreement was unconstitutional because it interfered with enforcement of Dames & Moore’s final judgment against the government of Iran and the Atomic Energy Organization.

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