States may now go after big banks

People walk outside Citigroup headquarters beneath a Citibank sign in New York City.

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Back when Elliot Spitzer was still attorney general of New York, he had a hunch that the nation's biggest banks were charging blacks and Hispanics higher mortgage rates than white borrowers. Then, a federal agency quashed his investigation. Now, the nation's highest court has ruled that Spitzer was right -- states can go after big banks. Here's more from Jill Barshay.


JILL BARSHAY: The Supreme Court now says states can enforce state-lending laws, even with federally-chartered banks like Citibank and Chase. Mark Savage is a senior attorney at Consumers Union. He says this is good news for consumers.

MARK SAVAGE: Instead of one federal regulatory agency, which has not been doing very much under the prior Bush administration, you now have at least 50 more sheriffs on the beat trying to enforce the laws that are designed to protect consumers.

These sheriffs aren't going to find it easy because they won't be able to launch official investigations and demand information from the banks. So they will have to settle for suing the banks like any private citizen.

It could take a long time before any of these sheriffs has a bank in handcuffs.

In New York, I'm Jill Barshay for Marketplace.

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