By Davenport, Todd
American Banker , Vol. 171, No. 174
WASHINGTON -- Watters v. Wachovia Bank NA, the first banking preemption case to come before the Supreme Court in 10 years, will likely be argued in early December.
Supporters of Linda Watters, the commissioner of the Michigan Office of Insurance and Financial Services, submitted arguments last week in the commissioner's fight against a Wachovia Corp. subsidiary over the limits of federal preemption of state law.
In briefs due Sept. 1, the National Association of Realtors, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, an association of 12 public-interest groups and 17 law professors, and the Center for State Enforcement of Antitrust and Consumer Protection Laws all supported the Michigan commissioner, as did Charles Turnbaugh, the Maryland commissioner of financial regulation. In August the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled against Mr. Turnbaugh in a similar case involving a National City Corp. subsidiary.
What separates the Watters case from the previous four major preemptions suits -- all of which the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency won -- is a focus on the operating subsidiaries of national banks. In January 2004 the OCC adopted rules shielding these units, like their parent banks, from state laws or their enforcement by state authorities. …