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National Bank of Oregon v. Insurance Agents

508 U.S. 439 (1993)

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National Bank of Oregon v. Insurance Agents

United States Supreme Court

508 U.S. 439 (1993)

Facts

In 1916 Congress passed an act (the 1916 act) allowing any national bank doing business in a town with a population under 5,000 to act as the agent of an insurance company. The 1916 act was originally included in the United States Code (the code) at 12 U.S.C. § 92. The 1916 act was surrounded by quotation marks, which placed § 92 in Revised Statute § 5202. Without the quotation marks, § 92 would have been placed in § 13 of the Federal Reserve Act. In fact, the 1916 act stated that its purpose was to amend the Federal Reserve Act. In 1918 Congress repealed part of § 5202. The 1952 version of the code omitted § 92 and included a note explaining that the section was repealed in 1918. Despite this, Congress assumed that § 92 remained in place, and federal agencies continued to rely on the section in making decisions. Section 92 was still included in the Statutes at Large, the permanent collection of laws passed by Congress. The United States National Bank of Oregon (the bank) (defendant) was a bank that had a branch in Banks, Oregon, a town with a population of 489. In 1986 the bank requested to sell insurance through its branch in the town of Banks. The Comptroller of the Currency (the comptroller) relied on § 92 and approved the request. The Independent Insurance Agents of America, Inc. (the insurance agents) (plaintiffs), an organization representing insurance agents, filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the comptroller’s decision. The district court granted summary judgment for the bank. The insurance agents appealed. The court of appeals raised the issue of § 92’s validity on its own motion and, finding that § 92 was repealed in 1918, held in favor of the insurance agents. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

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