Whitney National Bank in Jefferson Parish v. Bank of New Orleans & Trust Company

PETITIONER: Whitney National Bank in Jefferson Parish
RESPONDENT: Bank of New Orleans & Trust Company
LOCATION: United States Post Office and Courthouse

DOCKET NO.: 26
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 379 US 411 (1965)
ARGUED: Nov 12, 1964
DECIDED: Jan 18, 1965

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Whitney National Bank in Jefferson Parish v. Bank of New Orleans & Trust Company

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 12, 1964 in Whitney National Bank in Jefferson Parish v. Bank of New Orleans & Trust Company

Earl Warren:

Number 26, Whitney National Bank and Jefferson Parish, Petitioner, versus Bank of New Orleans and Trust company et al., and Number 30, James J. Saxon, Comptroller of the Currency, Petitioner, versus Bank of New Orleans and Trusty Company.

Mr. Spritzer.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Mr. Chief Justice, Your Honors.

This case comes here from the District of Columbia Circuit on the petitions of the Comptroller of the Currency and of the Whitney National Bank of Jefferson Parish.

At the suit of the three respondent banks all of them state banks alleging standing on the basis of competitive injury and at the suit of the Louisiana Banking Commissioner, the courts below have permanently enjoined the Comptroller of the Currency from issuing a so-called certificate of authority which is the last document of title that a National Bank Association requires, requires in order to open its doors and commence doing business as a national bank.

The District Court granted its injunction solely on the ground that a Louisiana statute was effective to forbid the opening of the National Bank.

That statute was passed as emergency legislation while the complaint in this case was pending in the District Court.

The Louisiana Act purports to forbid any bank which is a subsidiary of a holding company and Whitney-Jefferson is that.

From opening for business in Louisiana it -- it has not yet done so.

The Court of Appeals reached the same conclusion namely that a permanent injunction against the Comptroller should issue but it reached that result by a quite different route.

It concluded that the opening of Whitney-Jefferson would be a violation of federal law relating to the establishment of a branch or branch office of a bank.

The Court of Appeals was aware that the Federal Reserve Board which administers the Bank Holding Company Act had approved after full administrative proceedings the relationship between Whitney-Jefferson and its parent the Whitney Holding Company.

Earl Warren:

That was before the passage of the statute.

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes sir.

The Court of Appeals did not say that the Federal Reserve Board's order which incidentally has been appealed by two of these same respondents to the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit a case which has been argued by -- before that court.

The Court of Appeals did not say that the Board's order was invalid nor did it rule upon the question whether Louisiana's statute relating to subsidiaries of bank holding companies could validly forbid the opening of this contemplated national bank.

Byron R. White:

(Inaudible)

Ralph S. Spritzer:

If it were to succeed, I would assume that the Board's order would either be disapproved or that the case would be remanded to the Federal Reserve Board and I think for all practical purposes that would moot this litigation.

The burden of our argument would -- is going to be that the only matter which is really in controversy here is properly a matter within the primary jurisdiction of the Federal Reserve Board and subject only to review of that Board's order.

Hugo L. Black:

And that issue was attacked in the Fifth Circuit?

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes, the Board's order is attacked in the Fifth Circuit and we are in effect arguing that this attack is an impermissible collateral attack upon a subject matter which is committed to the Board and is properly reviewable in the Fifth Circuit.

(Inaudible)

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes, it held up to await the outcome of this injunctive action.

It entered a -- an order stating that it was doing that.

As I was about to say, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia --

Tom C. Clark:

Could I -- may I ask you, are you going into the respective jurisdictions of the Comptroller and the Federal Reserve Board?

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes sir.

I think that's basic too.

Tom C. Clark:

What -- were the Comptroller's has an independent function to perform or is it ministerial and so on?

Ralph S. Spritzer:

Yes.