Belmont, United States v. 301 U.S. 324 (1937)

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BELMONT, UNITED STATES v. 301 U.S. 324 (1937)

Belmont arose in the wake of President franklin d. roosevelt's formal recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933 pursuant to an executive agreement between the two countries. In conjunction with this act of recognition, Soviet claims to assets located in the United States and nationalized by the Soviet Union in 1918 were assigned to the United States under a collateral agreement known as the "Litvinov Assignment." When the federal government sought to enforce these claims in the state of New York, however, the New York courts dismissed the suit, holding that to allow the federal government to enforce the assignment would contradict New York public policy against confiscation of private property.

The Supreme Court unanimously reversed, holding that the Litvinov Assignment, as part of the process of recognition, not only created international obligations but also superseded any conflicting state law or policy. In so holding, the Court affirmed the President's constitutional authority to speak "as the sole organ" of the national government in formally recognizing another nation and to take all steps necessary to effect such recognition. The Court stated that all acts of recognition unite as one transaction (here, in an "international compact" or executive agreement) which, unlike a formal treaty, becomes a part of the "supreme Law of the Land" without requiring the advice and consent of the Senate.

Burns H. Weston

(see also: Foreign Affairs; Pink, United States v.)


Henkin, Louis 1972 Foreign Affairs and the Constitution. Mineola, N.Y.: Foundation Press.

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Belmont, United States v. 301 U.S. 324 (1937)

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