Court Restricts Collections Efforts Under Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act

In Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, certain parties obtained a judgment against Iran under the state sponsors of terrorism exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. They then sought to enforce that judgment against Iranian historical artifacts housed at the University of Chicago. The district court declined to permit the attachment, and the Seventh Circuit affirmed. The Court, resolving a circuit split in a unanimous opinion by Justice Sotomayor (with Justice Kagan recused), affirmed as well, holding that while Iran’s sovereign status was abrogated for the purposes of a judgment under the Act, Iran’s property had to be separately addressed within the exceptions of the Act contained in 28 U.S.C. sec. 1610 before any could be seized to satisfy a judgment. The Court rejected the creditors’ argument that the Act provided a freestanding basis to enforce as being contrary to the plain language of the Act.