SAN FRANCISCO, JUNE 4 -- A federal appeals court today overturned a ruling freezing assets of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, saying the Philippines had little chance of regaining $1.5 billion it claims the couple stole.

By a 2-to-1 vote, a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said the government of Corazon Aquino's contention that the U.S. investments were bought with proceeds of Marcos' looting of the Philippines during his presidency raised political and foreign-policy questions that went beyond this nation's courts.

The ruling, if it stands, would lift an order issued in June by U.S. District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer in Los Angeles freezing all of the Marcoses' assets worldwide.

The decision appeared to conflict with a November ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a freeze on Marcos' purported holdings in New York and declared that U.S. courts could judge such a case.

The majority opinion today by Judge Alex Kozinski said that even if Marcos seized dictatorial power in violation of Philippine law and used it to fill his pockets, as the Aquino government maintains, a U.S. court would have no standards by which to judge his actions.