Not a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Bank Markazi v. Peterson

Supreme Court of the United States

January 13, 2016, Argued; April 20, 2016, Decided

No. 14-770

Opinion

 [**473]  Justice Ginsburg delivered the opinion of the Court. 1

A provision of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, 22 U.S.C. §8772, makes available for postjudgment execution a set of assets held at a New York bank for Bank Markazi, the Central Bank of Iran. The assets would partially satisfy judgments gained in separate actions by over 1,000 victims of terrorist acts sponsored by Iran. The judgments  [*1317]  remain unpaid. Section 8772 is an unusual statute: It designates a particular set of assets and renders them available to satisfy the liability and damages judgments underlying a consolidated enforcement proceeding that the statute identifies by the District Court’s docket number. The question raised by petitioner Bank Markazi: Does §8772 violate the separation of powers by purporting to change the law for, and directing a particular result in, a single pending case?

Section 8772, we hold, does not transgress constraints placed on Congress and the [***6]  President by the Constitution. The statute, we point out, is not fairly portrayed as a “one-case-only regime.” Brief for Petitioner 27. Rather, it covers a category of postjudgment execution claims filed by numerous plaintiffs who, in multiple civil actions, obtained evidence-based judgments against Iran together amounting to billions of dollars. Section 8772 subjects the designated assets to execution “to satisfy any judgment” against Iran for damages caused by specified acts of terrorism. §8772(a)(1) (emphasis added). Congress, our decisions make clear, may amend the law and make the change applicable to pending cases, even when the amendment is outcome determinative.

Adding weight to our decision, Congress passed, and the President signed, §8772 in furtherance of their stance on a matter of foreign policy. Action in that realm warrants respectful review by courts. The Executive has historically made case-specific sovereign-immunity determinations to which courts have deferred. And exercise by Congress and the President of control over claims against foreign governments, as well as foreign-government-owned property in the United States, is hardly a novelty. In accord with the courts below, we perceive in §8772 no [***7]  violation of separation-of-powers principles, and no threat to the independence of the Judiciary.

Read The Full CaseNot a Lexis Advance subscriber? Try it out for free.

Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.

136 S. Ct. 1310 *; 194 L. Ed. 2d 463 **; 2016 U.S. LEXIS 2799 ***; 84 U.S.L.W. 4222; 94 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 432; 26 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 100

BANK MARKAZI, aka THE CENTRAL BANK OF IRAN, Petitioner v. DEBORAH PETERSON, et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

Peterson v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 758 F.3d 185, 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 13038 (2d Cir. N.Y., 2014)

Disposition: 758 F. 3d 185, affirmed.

CORE TERMS

judicial power, judgments, courts, pardon, terrorism, district court, pending case, proceedings, blocked, retroactive, separation of powers, assembly, wins, prescribe, vested, cases, sovereign immunity, quotation, colonial, foreign-state, terrorist, neighbor, marks, political branch, determinations, limitations, beneficial, restrained, decisions, directing

Constitutional Law, Separation of Powers, International Law, Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, Exceptions, Terrorism, Governments, Legislation, Statutory Remedies & Rights, Sovereign Immunity, Construction & Interpretation, Civil Procedure, Judgments, Enforcement & Execution, Writs of Execution, The Judiciary, Effect & Operation, Congressional Duties & Powers, Necessary & Proper Clause, Bills of Attainder & Ex Post Facto Clause, Ex Post Facto Clause, Application & Interpretation, Effect & Operation, Retrospective Operation, Bill of Rights, Fundamental Rights, Eminent Domain & Takings, Procedural Due Process, Scope of Protection, Enforcement & Execution, Bills of Attainder, Equal Protection, Nature & Scope of Protection