Industry NewsMortgage

Supreme Court decision upsets Realtors, pleases banks

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Mortgage lending subsidiaries of federally chartered banks are subject to federal oversight, not state regulations, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-3 decision today. Michigan regulators had sought to block the operations of Wachovia Mortgage Co., a subsidiary of Wachovia Bank, after the subsidiary surrendered its registration in Michigan. State law required bank subsidiaries to register with a state regulatory agency and submit to state supervision. Wachovia contested these regulations in a lawsuit, charging that the state requirements do not apply because its subsidiary is regulated by the National Bank Act and the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The lower courts had held that federal regulations preempted state regulations in the oversight of a federally chartered banking company's subsidiary. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg delivered the court's opinion in Watters v. Wachovia, and she was joined by Anthony Kennedy, David Hackett Souter, Stephen Breyer and Samuel Alito. Ju...