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U.S. Supreme Court

Clarke v. Securities Indus. Ass'n, 479 U.S. 388 (1987)

Clarke v. Securities Industry Association

No. 85-971

Argued November 3, 1986

Decided January 14, 1987

479 U.S. 388


Petitioner Security Pacific National Bank (Security Pacific) applied to the Comptroller of the Currency for permission to establish an affiliate named Discount Brokerage, and to offer discount brokerage services not only at its branch offices but also at other locations inside and outside of its home State. A pertinent branching provision of the National Bank Act, 12 U.S.C. § 81, originally enacted in 1927 as part of the McFadden Act, limits "the general business" of a national bank to its headquarters and any "branches" permitted by 12 U.S.C. § 36. Section 36(c) provides that a national bank is permitted to branch only in its home State, and only to the extent that a bank of the same State is permitted to branch under state law, and the term "branch" is defined in § 36(f)

"to include any branch bank, branch office, branch agency, additional office or any branch place of business . . . at which deposits are received, or checks paid, or money lent."

The Comptroller approved Security Pacific's application, concluding that the nonchartered offices at which Discount Brokerage would offer its services would not constitute branches under the McFadden Act because none of the statutory branching functions set forth in § 36(f) would be performed there, and that treating offices conducting brokerage activities as branches under § 36(f) would be inconsistent with the longstanding practice of banks in operating nonbranch offices dealing in United States Government or municipal securities. Respondent, a trade association representing securities brokers, underwriters, and investment bankers, brought suit in Federal District Court, contending that bank discount brokerage offices are branches within the meaning of § 36(f), and thus are subject to the geographical restrictions imposed by § 36(c). The court, relying on Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, Inc. v. Camp, 397 U. S. 150, rejected the Comptroller's contention that respondent lacked standing to maintain the action, and ruled for respondent on the merits. The Court of Appeals affirmed. chanrobles.com-red

Page 479 U. S. 389


1. Respondent has standing to maintain this lawsuit. Under the "standing" standard set forth in Association of Data Processing Service Organizations, supra, at 153, the complainant must be injured in fact, and the interest sought to be protected by the complainant must be arguably within the "zone of interests" to be protected or regulated by the statute in question. The essential inquiry in determining standing is whether Congress intended for a particular class of plaintiffs to be relied upon to challenge an agency's disregard of the law. Cf. Block v. Community Nutrition Institute, 467 U. S. 340, 467 U. S. 347. The "zone of interest" test provides standing in this case, since the interest respondent asserts has a plausible relationship to the policies underlying §§ 36 and 81 with regard to Congress' concern to keep national banks from gaining a monopoly control over credit and money through unlimited branching. Pp. 479 U. S. 394-403.

2. The Comptroller, whose construction of the statutory provisions is entitled to great weight, did not exceed his authority in approving Security Pacific's application. There is no merit to respondent's contention that the Comptroller's interpretation of the National Bank Act contradicts the plain language of the statute. The phrase "[t]he general business of each national banking association" in § 81 need not be read to encompass all the business in which a bank engages, but, as interpreted by the Comptroller, can plausibly be read as covering only those activities that are part of the bank's core banking functions. The Act's history, including that predating the branching provisions of the McFadden Act, supports the Comptroller's interpretation. The history of the McFadden Act itself does not establish that Congress intended the locational restriction of §§ 81 and 36 to reach all activities in which national banks are specifically authorized to engage. The Comptroller reasonably interprets § 36(f) as requiring "competitive equality" between state and national banks only in core banking functions, and the operation of a discount brokerage service is not such a function. Pp. 479 U. S. 403-409.

244 U.S.App.D.C. 419, 758 F.2d 739, and 247 U.S.App.D.C. 42, 765 F.2d 1196, affirmed in part and reversed in part.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined, and in Parts I and III of which REHNQUIST, C. J., and STEVENS and O'cONNOR, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which REHNQUIST, C.J.,and O'CONNOR, J., joined, post, p. 479 U. S. 409. SCALIA, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the cases. chanrobles.com-red

Page 479 U. S. 390


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