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Foreclosure Offense: NY AG Scores Big Win As Supremes Reverse Lower Courts, Give Go-Ahead To States To Pursue Probes Of National Banks For Lending Discrimination

June 30, 2009

The Wall Street Journal reports:

  • In a surprise win for state regulators over the banking industry, a divided U.S. Supreme Court on Monday gave New York prosecutors the green light to investigate national banks for lending discrimination. The high court, in a 5-4 opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia, said federal banking regulations didn’t pre-empt the ability of states to enforce their own fair-lending laws.
  • The ruling was a win for the New York attorney general’s office, which had been seeking to investigate the banks’ residential real-estate lending practices since 2005.(1) Scalia said New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo couldn’t issue executive subpoenas to the banks but could bring enforcement actions against them in court. The decision was a surprise because decades of U.S. Supreme Court rulings have favored federal banking regulation at the expense of state regulation. [...] Cuomo said the ruling “reaffirms the vital role state attorneys general play in protecting consumers from illegal and improper practices by our country’s biggest and most powerful banks.”

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  • The divided ruling didn’t split along the court’s normal ideological lines. Justice Clarence Thomas, whose views often align with Scalia’s, wrote the court’s dissent.(2)

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  • All of the other 49 states backed New York in the case, saying they have historically had the power to enforce consumer-protection laws against national banks. That power, the states said, was particularly important now because of the widespread mortgage abuses that contributed to the nation’s economic crisis.

For the whole story, see US High Court: States Can Probe Natl Bank Lending (subscription required; if no subscription, try here, then click link for the story).

For the court’s ruling, see Cuomo v. Clearing House Assn., L.L.C., Docket # 08-453 (June 29, 2009).

(1) According to the story, former New York Attorney General and Governor Eliot Spitzer launched the probe, saying mortgage data showed black and Hispanic borrowers received a larger percentage of high-interest home loans than white borrowers. Spitzer asked several banks, including Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., to voluntarily produce non-public information about their mortgage-lending practices in New York. In response, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and a consortium of national banks each sued to block Spitzer’s investigation.

(2) Justice Scalia was actually the swing vote in this ruling, aligning himself with Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginzburg, and Breyer, the four justices on the court widely considered to be politically “left of center”. DiscriminationPredatoryLendingAlpha

For the whole story, see US High Court: States Can Probe Natl Bank Lending (subscription required; if no subscription, try here, then click link for the story).

For the court’s ruling, see Cuomo v. Clearing House Assn., L.L.C., Docket # 08-453 (June 29, 2009).

(1) According to the story, former New York Attorney General and Governor Eliot Spitzer launched the probe, saying mortgage data showed black and Hispanic borrowers received a larger percentage of high-interest home loans than white borrowers. Spitzer asked several banks, including Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc., to voluntarily produce non-public information about their mortgage-lending practices in New York. In response, the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and a consortium of national banks each sued to block Spitzer’s investigation.

(2) Justice Scalia was actually the swing vote in this ruling, aligning himself with Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginzburg, and Breyer, the four justices on the court widely considered to be politically “left of center”.

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3 Comments

  1. Foreclosure Offense: NY AG Scores Big Win As Supremes Reverse Lower Courts, Give Go-Ahead To States To Pursue Probes Of National Banks For Lending… | Low Loan Refinancing June 30, 2009 @ 3:03 pm

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  2. bForeclosure/b Offense: NY AG Scores Big Win As Supremes Reverse b…/b | Welcome to Fusion-Io.ca June 30, 2009 @ 5:37 pm

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  3. Posts about lending discrimination (best posts combined for review) as of August 14, 2009 | Discrimination Law News August 14, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

    [...] Scalia said the federal National Bank Act does not prevent ordinary enforcement of state law. Foreclosure Offense: NY AG Scores Big Win As Supremes Reverse Lower Courts, Give Go-Ahead To States … – foreclosuredefensenationwide.com 06/30/2009 Normal 0 false false false [...]

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