- - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Iran’s central bank lost its appeal to the United States Supreme Court Wednesday in a case decades in the making.

The 6-2 ruling by the court frees up for relatives of the deadly 1983 Beirut embassy bombing some $1.75 billion in bond assets that Bank Markazi holds in American bank accounts.

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg authored the opinion, which was joined by all her colleagues except Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who dissented.

In arguments before the justices in January, the Iranian government sought to overturn the judgment of the New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals by arguing that bipartisan legislation passed in 2012 to help ensure victims’ survivors could collect damages was a violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers doctrine.

In his passionate dissenting opinion drawing in part inspiration from The Federalist Papers, Chief Justice Roberts warned that “with this Court’s seal of approval, Congress can unabashedly pick the winners and losers in particular pending cases.”

It may well create a situation where Congress will in the future “extend … the sphere of its activity and draw … all power into its impetuous vortex,” he warned, citing James Madison.

The ruling in Bank Markazi v. Peterson can be found at the Supreme Court’s website.

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