that, in exercising its stay authority, a court "must weigh competing interests and maintain an even balance," and further, that it would be an abuse to grant a "stay of indefinite duration in absence of pressing need." 299 U.S. at 254-55, 57 S. Ct. at 165-66. It is against these standards that the government's application must be measured.
The government argues initially that, because of the current problems of the United States with Iran, it would be prevented from furnishing to the Court its views on the sovereign immunity defense asserted by Iran in its motion to dismiss. It is difficult to see how this constitutes a "pressing need," especially given the enactment by the Congress of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1602 et seq. A primary purpose of that Act was to depoliticize sovereign immunity decisions by transferring them from the Executive to the Judicial Branch of government, thereby assuring litigants that such decisions would be made on legal rather than political grounds. Jet Line Services, Inc. v. M/V Marsa El Hariga, 462 F. Supp. 1165, 1170 (D.Md.1978). As a matter of law it, therefore, cannot be deemed crucial whether or not the United States offers its views on that aspect of the case. If, for whatever reason, the government feels unable to present its views, the issue will be decided by the Court without their benefit, as has been done by other courts in similar circumstances. See e.g., American International Group, Inc. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, 493 F. Supp. 522 (D.D.C.1980); Electronic Data Systems Corp. v. Social Security Organization of Iran, Civil Action No. A3-79-218-F (N.D.Tex. May 2, 1980).
The government claims further that court proceedings involving Iranian assets might restrict the President's flexibility in finding means to resolve the crisis in Iranian-American relations, that Iranian assets are a bargaining chip that should be preserved, and that a pronouncement by an American court with respect thereto may be perceived by the Iranian authorities as reflecting the policies of the United States.
All of these contentions would be highly persuasive if they were not open-ended as to substance and particularly as to duration. But the government's pleadings and its classified and unclassified affidavits do not indicate with the slightest degree of specificity that discussions to resolve the Iranian crisis are taking or are about to take place, in what way judicial proceedings involving Iranian assets not accompanied by a direct transfer of funds
would harm those discussions, or when in the future a stay on judicial proceedings might be lifted.
The Court is, of course, most sympathetic to the government's position, particularly as it may relate to the American hostages. But a mere general desire to maintain flexibility for an indefinite period toward the day when, possibly, the assets may become a diplomatic bargaining chip
is inadequate when weighed, as it must be under Landis, against competing interests. Those interests are represented here by the very specific and present right of an American plaintiff to access to the American courts to vindicate its claims to property located on American soil-a right stemming directly from Article III of the Constitution and the Fifth Amendment.
The factors upon which the government relies would obviously not be sufficient to sustain a suspension of constitutional rights other than those here presented. For example, the press could not, consistently with the First Amendment, be prohibited from publishing the news or commenting thereon on the ground that this was desirable in order to preserve diplomatic flexibility or to avoid incurring the displeasure of a foreign regime. See International Products Corp. v. Koons, 325 F.2d 403 (2d Cir. 1963). Likewise, the courts would not be justified in depriving individuals of their liberty to assist the government in achieving its foreign policy objectives.
The action the government has proposed is different only in degree. The plaintiff has a constitutional right to access to the courts for an adjudication of its claims with respect to what are alleged to be property interests. While-unlike the rights to liberty and freedom of speech-enjoyment of that right may be delayed in appropriate circumstances, it may not be denied entirely. Yet an indefinite stay of the proceedings on the basis of the relatively vague representations made by the government would amount to just such a denial.
On September 26, 1980, the Court of Appeals for this Circuit granted a ninety-day stay of proceedings in American International Group, Inc. v. Islamic Republic of Iran, et al., No. 80-1779 in response to a Suggestion of Interest filed by the United States similar to that filed in this case. While the decision of the Court of Appeals technically does not bind this Court in the instant case, it does represent an appellate ruling in this Circuit on a pleading that is all but identical to the one filed by the government here.
Moreover, the appellate stay does not represent the indefinite suspension of proceedings sought by the government. It is, rather, severely limited in duration.
In deference to the ruling of the Court of Appeals, the Court will stay the proceedings herein to the date upon which the appellate stay expires in December, that is, for a period of seventy days from this date. Should the Court of Appeals extend its stay in December, the Court will consider applications from either party or from the United States for a similar extension.