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Presidential Power to Regulate Domestic Litigation Involving Iranian Assets


By its terms the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) gives the President broad authority to regulate the exercise of all rights and privileges “with respect to” foreign property, including their exercise in a judicial context.  The legislative history of the IEEPA confirms that Congress intended the President to have discretionary power to regulate court proceedings involving claims to foreign property, as well as the transfer of or creation of interests in such property in a nonjudicial context.

The authority delegated by Congress to the President in the IEEPA to deal with an international emergency should be read as broadly as the statutory text and the Constitution will permit, and no limitations on it should be implied.

The President’s power under the IEEPA to prevent the prosecution or adjudication of claims against Iran in the federal courts extends to any claim asserting an interest in property in which Iran has an interest, though it is unclear whether this would include a naked tort claim against Iran which did not otherwise involve the assertion of an interest in property.

Updated July 9, 2014