4/20/16, "Terror victims win Supreme Court judgment against Iran," AP, Mark Sherman, via Seattle Times
"The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a judgment allowing families of
victims of the 1983 Marine barracks bombing in Beirut and other
terrorist attacks to collect nearly $2 billion in frozen Iranian funds.
The court on Wednesday ruled 6-2 in favor of more than 1,300
relatives of the 241 U.S. service members who died in the Beirut bombing
and victims of other attacks that courts have linked to Iran.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the opinion for the court rejecting efforts
by Iran’s central bank to try to stave off court orders that would allow
the relatives to be paid for their losses. The money is sitting in a
federal court trust account.
Iran’s Bank Markazi complained that Congress was
intruding into the business of federal courts when it passed a 2012 law
that specifically directs that the banks’ assets in the United States be
turned over to the families. President Barack Obama issued an executive
order earlier in 2012 freezing the Iranian central bank’s assets in the
The law, Ginsburg wrote, “does not transgress restraints placed on Congress and the president by the Constitution.”
Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented.
“The authority of the political branches is sufficient; they have no
need to seize ours,” Roberts wrote.
The decision comes as controversy swirls over pending legislation in
Congress that would allow families of the Sept. 11 attacks to hold the
government of Saudi Arabia liable in U.S. court. The Obama
administration opposes the bill [as do GOP Establishment's Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell].
President Barack Obama met with King
Salman in Riyadh Wednesday at the start of a brief trip to the country.
Congress has repeatedly changed the law in the past 20 years to make
it easier for victims to sue over state-sponsored terrorism; federal
courts have awarded the victims billions of dollars. But Iran has
refused to comply with the judgments, leading lawyers to hunt for
Iranian assets in the United States.
The Supreme Court case involved $1.75 billion in bonds, plus
accumulating interest, owned by the Iranian bank and held by Citibank in
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit included relatives of the victims of
the Marine barracks bombing in Beirut, the 1996 terrorist bombing of the
Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia which killed 19 service members, and
other attacks that were carried out by groups with links to Iran. The
lead plaintiff is Deborah Peterson, whose brother, Lance Cpl. James C.
Knipple, was killed in Beirut.
“We are extremely pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision, which
will bring long-overdue relief to more than 1,000 victims of Iranian
terrorism and their families, many of whom have waited decades for
redress,” said Theodore Olson, the former Bush administration Justice
Department official who argued on behalf of the families at the Supreme
The case is Bank Markazi v. Peterson, 14-770."
4/19/16, "McConnell, Ryan decline to back 9/11 lawsuit bill," CNN