Friday, December 6, 2013

United States v. Belmont case brief

United States v. Belmont case brief summary
301 U.S. 324 (1937)

Petitioner United States petitioned for certiorari to review the decision of Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which affirmed the district court's decision dismissing its suit to recover from respondent executors money deposited with their decedent by a Russian corporation and assigned to U.S. by the Soviet Government, after expropriation.

The assignment to the U.S. of the expropriated monies was effected by an exchange of diplomatic correspondence between the Soviet Government and the U.S. The district court held that the assignment embraced the instant claim. However, it held that a judgment for the U.S. could not be had because it would put into effect an act of confiscation that was contrary to the public policy of New York where the monies were deposited.


  • In granting the certiorari petition, the court held that no state policy could prevail against the international compact here involved. 
  • The conduct of foreign relations was committed by the U.S. Constitution to the political departments of the government, and the propriety of what could be done in the exercise of this political power was not subject to judicial inquiry or decision. 
  • The assignment involved here was within the competence of the President and the external powers of the United States were to be exercised without regard to state laws or policies. 
  • Further, while the U.S. Constitution stated that private property could not be taken without just compensation, the Constitution had no extraterritorial operation, unless in respect of U.S. citizens.

The court reversed the judgment of the circuit court of appeal.

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