Bank Trade Securities Ruling Left Intact / by U.S. Supreme Court

Article excerpt

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday left intact lower court rulings allowing certain state-chartered banks to trade securities and keeping in India a lawsuit against Union Carbide Corp. stemming from the 1984 Bhopal disaster.

The high court also allowed Michigan to continue a Sunday ban on car sales. And it set aside a ruling requiring Delta Air Lines to submit to arbitration a dispute growing out of its $860 million merger with Western Air Lines.

In some important labor decisions, the justices agreed to consider broadening the remedy for workers claiming to be victims of racial harassment, but refused to revive the sex-discrimination lawsuit of seven men claiming a female co-worker who dated the boss was unfairly promoted.

State-chartered banks that are not members of the Federal Reserve System were permitted to continue trading stocks and bonds when the Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal to a lower court ruling by two trade groups.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, in keeping with a recent deregulatory trend, ruled last April that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. didn't violate the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 by permitting such banks to move into the securities business.

The Depression-era law was passed by Congress in response to a wave of bank failures many saw as the result of stock market speculation by the banking industry.

The appeals court said Congress ``clearly intended'' to allow the banks ``to maintain subsidiary or affiliate relationships with securities firms.''

In the case involving Union Carbide, the Supreme Court, without comment, refused to move to the United States a massive lawsuit against the Danbury, Conn., company following the 1984 Bhopal chemical plant disaster that killed more than 2,000 people.

The justices also rejected an Indian government appeal aimed at placing tougher procedural restraints on Union Carbide, owner of the Bhopal plant, when the claims are tried in India.

Thousands of claims filed in the United States against Union Carbide and a suit filed by the government of India were consolidated and assigned to U.S. District Judge John F. Keenan in New York City.

Keenan dismissed the suits on grounds the case should be heard before a more convenient forum in India.

In other cases Monday, the Supreme Court:

- Left intact a Michigan law permitting a ban of car sales on Sundays while allowing other businesses to remain open. The court said, ``. . .We are not going to be tempted to open the floodgates to declare all regulatory legislation of Sunday sales unconstitutional.''

- Told a federal appeals court to review its ruling requiring arbitration for Delta's merger with Western. Two Western unions challenged the agreement, contending it didn't live up to collective bargaining promises. …