561 U.S. 247 (2010), 08-1191, Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd.

Docket Nº:08-1191.
Citation:561 U.S. 247, 130 S.Ct. 2869, 177 L.Ed.2d 535, 78 U.S.L.W. 4700
Opinion Judge:SCALIA, Justice
Party Name:Robert MORRISON, et al., Petitioners, v. NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LTD. et al.
Attorney:Thomas A. Dubbs, for petitioners. George T. Conway, III, for respondents. Matthew D. Roberts, for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting respondents. Eric Seiler, Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, New York, NY, A. Graham Allen, Rogers Towers, P.A., Jacks...
Judge Panel:Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Ste
Case Date:June 24, 2010
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 247

561 U.S. 247 (2010)

130 S.Ct. 2869, 177 L.Ed.2d 535, 78 U.S.L.W. 4700

Robert MORRISON, et al., Petitioners,

v.

NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LTD. et al.

No. 08-1191.

United States Supreme Court

June 24, 2010

Argued March 29, 2010

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

[177 L.Ed.2d 542] [130 S.Ct. 2872] Syllabus [*]

In 1998, respondent National Australia Bank (National), a foreign bank whose "ordinary shares" are not traded on any exchange in this coun­try, purchased respondent [130 S.Ct. 2873] HomeSide Lending, a company headquar­tered in Florida that was in the business of servicing mortgages—seeing to collection of the monthly payments, etc. In 2001, National had to write down the value of HomeSide's assets, causing National's share prices to fall. Petitioners, Australians who purchased Na­tional's shares before the write-downs, sued respondents—National, HomeSide, and officers of both companies-in Federal District Court for violation of §§10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Rule 10b-5. They claimed that HomeSide and its officers had manipulated financial models to make the company's mortgage-servicing rights appear more valuable than they really were; and that National and its chief executive officer were aware of this deception. Respondents moved to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). The District Court granted the former motion, finding no jurisdiction because the domestic acts were, at most, a link in a securities fraud that con­cluded abroad. The Second Circuit affirmed.

Held:

1. The Second Circuit erred in considering §10(b)'s extraterritorial reach to raise a question of subject-matter jurisdiction, thus allowing dismissal under Rule 12(b)(1). What conduct §10(b) reaches is a mer­its question, while subject-matter jurisdiction "refers to a tribunal's power to hear a case." Union Pacific R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Loco­motive Engineers [177 L.Ed.2d 543] and Trainmen Gen. Comm. of Adjustment, Central Region, 558 U.S. 67, 81, 130 S.Ct. 584, 175 L.Ed.2d 428 (internal quotation marks omitted). The District Court had jurisdiction under 15 U.S.C. §78aa to adjudicate the §10(b) question. However, it is unnecessary to remand in view of that error because the same analysis justifies dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). Pp. 2876-2877.

2. Section 10(b) does not provide a cause of action to foreign plain­tiffs suing foreign and American defendants for misconduct in con­nection with securities traded on foreign exchanges. Pp. 2877-2888, 177 L.Ed.2d, at 547-558.

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(a) It is a "longstanding principle of American law 'that legisla­tion of Congress, unless a contrary intent appears, is meant to apply only within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.' " EEOC v. Arabian American Oil Co., 499 U.S. 244, 248, 111 S.Ct. 1227, 113 L.Ed.2d 274 (Aramco). When a statute gives no clear indication of an extraterritorial application, it has none. Nonetheless, the Second Circuit believed the Exchange Act's silence about §10(b)'s extraterritorial application permitted the court to "discern" whether Congress would have wanted the statute to apply. This disregard of the presumption against extraterritorial­ity has occurred over many decades in many courts of appeals and has produced a collection of tests for divining congressional intent that are complex in formulation and unpredictable in application. The results demonstrate the wisdom of the presumption against ex­traterritoriality. Rather than guess anew in each case, this Court applies the presumption in all cases, preserving a stable background against which Congress can legislate with predictable effects. Pp. 2877-2887, 177 L.Ed.2d, at 547-551.

(b) Because Rule 10b–5 was promulgated under §10(b), it "does not extend beyond conduct encompassed by §10(b)'s prohibition." United States v. O'Hagan, 521 U.S. 642, 651, 117 S.Ct. 2199, 138 L.Ed.2d 724. Thus, if § 10(b) is not extraterritorial, neither is Rule 10b–5. On its face, §10(b) contains nothing to suggest that it applies abroad. Contrary to the argument of petitioners and the Solicitor [130 S.Ct. 2874] General, a general reference to foreign commerce in the definition of "interstate commerce, " see 15 U.S.C. §78c(a)(17), does not defeat the presumption against extraterritorial­ity, Aramco, supra, at 251, 111 S.Ct. 1227, 113 L.Ed.2d 274. Nor does a fleeting reference, in §78b(2)'s description of the Exchange Act's purposes, to the dissemination and quotation abroad of prices of domestically traded securities. Nor does Exchange Act §30(b), which says that the Act does not apply "to any person insofar as he transacts a business in securities without the ju­risdiction of the United States, " unless he does so in violation of regu­lations promulgated by the SEC "to prevent . . . evasion of [the Act]." This would be an odd way of indicating that the Act always has ex­traterritorial application; the Commission's enabling regulations pre­venting "evasion" seem directed at actions abroad that might conceal a domestic violation. The argument of petitioners and the Solicitor General also fails to account for §30(a), which explicitly provides for a specific extraterritorial application. That provision would be quite superfluous if the rest of the Exchange Act already applied to trans­actions on foreign exchanges-and its limitation of that [177 L.Ed.2d 544] application to securities of domestic issuers would be inoperative. There being no affirmative indication in the Exchange Act that §10(b) applies extraterritorially, it does not. Pp. 2881 - 2883, 177 L.Ed.2d, at 551-553.

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(c) The domestic activity in this case-Florida is where Home-Side and its executives engaged in the alleged deceptive conduct and where some misleading public statements were made-does not mean petitioners only seek domestic application of the Act. It is a rare case of prohibited extraterritorial application that lacks all con­tact with United States territory. In Aramco, for example, where the plaintiff had been hired in Houston and was an American citizen, see 499 U.S., at 247, 111 S.Ct. 1227, 113 L.Ed.2d 274, this Court concluded that the "focus" of congres­sional concern in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was neither that territorial event nor that relationship, but domestic employ­ment. Applying that analysis here: The Exchange Act's focus is not on the place where the deception originated, but on purchases and sales of securities in the United States. Section 10(b) applies only to transactions in securities listed on domestic exchanges and domestic transactions in other securities. The primacy of the domestic ex­change is suggested by the Exchange Act's prologue, see 48 Stat. 881, and by the fact that the Act's registration requirements apply only to securities listed on national securities exchanges, §78l(a). This focus is also strongly confirmed by §30(a) and (b). Moreover, the Court re­jects the notion that the Exchange Act reaches conduct in this coun­try affecting exchanges or transactions abroad for the same reason that Aramco rejected overseas application of Title VII: The probabil­ity of incompatibility with other countries' laws is so obvious that if Congress intended such foreign application "it would have addressed the subject of conflicts with foreign laws and procedures." 499 U.S., at 256, 111 S.Ct. 1227, 113 L.Ed.2d 274. Neither the Government nor petitioners provide any textual support for their proposed alternative test, which would find a viola­tion where the fraud involves significant and material conduct in the United States. Pp. 2883-2888, 177 L.Ed.2d, at 553-555.

547 F.3d 167, affirmed.

Scalia, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment. Ste­vens, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which [130 S.Ct. 2875] Ginsburg, J., joined. Sotomayor, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Thomas A. Dubbs, for petitioners.

George T. Conway, III, for respondents.

Matthew D. Roberts, for the United States as amicus curiae, by special leave of the Court, supporting respondents.

Eric Seiler, Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, New York, NY, A. Graham Allen, Rogers Towers, P.A., Jacksonville, FL, George T. Conway, III, Counsel of Record, John F. Lynch, Carrie M. Reilly, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, New York, NY, for Respondents.

Samuel Issacharoff, New York, NY, Thomas A. Dubbs, Counsel of Record, James W. Johnson, Richard W. Joffe, Barry M. Okun, Labaton Sucharow LLP, New York, NY, for petitioners.

OPINION

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SCALIA, Justice

We decide whether §10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 provides a cause of action to foreign plaintiffs suing

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foreign and American defendants for misconduct in connection with securities traded on foreign exchanges.

I

Respondent National Australia Bank Limited (National) was, during [177 L.Ed.2d 545] the relevant time, the largest bank in Austra­lia. Its Ordinary Shares-what in America would be called "common stock"-are traded on the Australian Stock Exchange Limited and on other foreign securities exchanges, but not on any exchange in the United States. There are listed on the New York Stock Exchange, how­ever, National's American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), which represent the right to receive a specified number of National's Ordinary Shares. 547 F.3d 167, 168, and n. 1 (C.A.2 2008).

The complaint alleges the following facts, which we...

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