Dames & Moore v. Regan

453 U.S. 654 (1981)


President Carter worked out a deal for the exchange of United States hostages held in Iran. The deal dismissed all existing legal claims against Iran or its citizens, referring them to a special claims tribunal. All Iranian assets held in the United States were to be unfrozen. Congress had taken no action to either approve or disapprove the President's action. Dames & Moore (P), asserting a contractual claim against several Iranian banks, brought an action to have the Executive order declared unconstitutional. P had won a suit against Iranian defendants but was unable to collect its property. The district court nullified the prejudgment attachments and stayed all further proceedings. On April 28, 1981, P filed this action for declaratory and injunctive relief against the United States and the Secretary of the Treasury, seeking to prevent enforcement of the Executive Orders and Treasury Department regulations implementing the Agreement with Iran. In its complaint, P alleged that the actions of the President and the Secretary of the Treasury implementing the Agreement with Iran were beyond their statutory and constitutional powers, and, in any event, were unconstitutional to the extent they adversely affect petitioner's final judgment, its execution of that judgment in the State of Washington, its prejudgment attachments, and its ability to continue to litigate against the Iranian banks. The District Court denied P's motion for a preliminary injunction and dismissed P's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The United States Courts of Appeals for the First and the District of Columbia Circuits upheld the President's authority to issue the Executive Orders and regulations challenged by P. Eventually, P ought a writ of certiorari before judgment.