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March 28, 2022

New ABA Legal Fact Check explores legal basis for sanctions against Russian oligarchs

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2022 — A new ABA Legal Fact Check released today examines the history and law behind U.S. sanctions, and how two statutes dating to the 1970s provide the legal framework for the Biden administration to freeze the U.S. assets of Russian oligarchs and restrict their travel and use of property.

The fact check explores how the U.S. government has used economic sanctions to address national security and foreign policy crises since the War of 1812, when the secretary of the treasury imposed economic restrictions on Great Britain. It notes that today U.S. economic sanctions are in place targeting more than two dozen countries, in addition to several transnational threats, such as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

But the breadth of the sanctions against the oligarchs and members of Russia’s State Duma, or lower house, is unprecedented. The fact check explains how constitutional issues, raised primarily through the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, intersect with the laws providing sanctions and notes that the federal government has typically prevailed in court when challenged.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public through case and statutory law to find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. The web portal for ABA Legal Fact Check includes a search button for its content, which is grouped by legal topics in nine different categories, including COVID-19 legal issues, presidential authority, election law, and police and security.The URL for the site is

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