Eccles v. Peoples Bank of Lakewood Village, Cal, No. 101

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFRANKFURTER
Citation68 S.Ct. 641,333 U.S. 426,92 L.Ed. 784
Decision Date15 March 1948
Docket NumberNo. 101
PartiesECCLES et al. v. PEOPLES BANK OF LAKEWOOD VILLAGE, CAL

333 U.S. 426
68 S.Ct. 641
92 L.Ed. 784
ECCLES et al.

v.

PEOPLES BANK OF LAKEWOOD VILLAGE, CAL.

No. 101.
Argued Dec. 9, 1947.
Decided March 15, 1948.
Rehearing Denied April 19, 1948.

See 333 U.S. 877, 68 S.Ct. 900.

Mr. J. Leonard Townsend, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Samuel B. Stewart, Jr., of New York City, for respondent.

Page 427

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a proceeding under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 48 Stat. 955, 28 U.S.C. § 400, 28 U.S.C.A. § 400. Its aim is to have declared invalid a condition under which the respondent became a member of the Federal Reserve System. The California State Banking Commission authorized the establishment of the respondent provided it obtained federal deposit insurance. This requirement could be met either by direct application to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or through membership in the Federal Reserve System. § 12B(e) and (f) of the Federal Reserve Act, 49 Stat. 162, 170, 49 Stat. 684, 687, 12 U.S.C. § 264(e) and (f), 12 U.S.C.A. § 264(e, f). Respondent sought such membership but its application was rejected. The promoters of the Bank, having requested the Board of Governors of the federal Reserve System to reconsider the application for membership, were advised that favorable action depended on a showing that the Transamerica Corporation, a powerful bank holding company, did not have, nor was intended to have, any interest in this Bank. Having been satisfied on this point, the Board of Governors granted membership to respondent sube ct to conditions of which the fourth is the bone of contention in this litigation.

This condition reads as follows:

'4. If, without prior written approval of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Transamerica Corporation, or any unit of the Transamerica group, including Bank of America National Trust and Savings Association, or any holding company affiliate or any subsidiary thereof, acquires, directly or indirectly, through the mechanism of extension of loans for the purpose of acquiring bank stock, or in any other manner, any interest in such bank, other than such as may arise out of the usual correspondent bank relationships, such bank, within 60 days after

Page 428

written notice from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, shall withdraw from membership in the Federal Reserve System.'

The Board of Governors gave the respondent this explanation for the condition:

'The application for membership has been approved upon representations that the bank is a bona fide local independent institution and that no holding company group has any interest in the bank at the time of its admission to membership, and that the directors and stockholders of the bank have no plans, commitments or understandings looking toward a change in the status of the bank as a local independent institution. Condition of membership numbered 4 is designed to maintain that status.'

Some time later, in 1944, Transamerica, without prior knowledge of the respondent, acquired 540 of the 5,000 shares of its outstanding stock. The Bank duly advised the Board of Governors of this fact, but requested that it be relieved of Condition No. 4. This, the Board of Governors declined to do. Then followed this action, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, against the Board of Governors for a declaration that Condition No. 4 was invalid and for an injunction against its enforcement. A motion by the defendants to dismiss the complaint, in that it failed to set forth a justiciable controversy, was denied. 64 F.Supp. 811. The defendants answered, claiming that the Bank's acceptance of membership barred it from questioning the validity of Condition No. 4, and that in any case the condition was valid, and moved for judgment on the pleadings. The Bank, having filed a number of affidavits, moved for summary judgment. The District Court, in an unreported opinion, held that the Bank was bound by the condition on which it had accepted mem-

Page 429

bership in the Federal Reserve System, and gave judgment for the defendants. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, one judge dissenting, reversed. It rejected the defense of estoppel and sustained the validity of the condition 'only as a statement that, if the Board of Governors should determine, after hearing, that Transamerica's ownership of the bank's shares has resulted in a change for the worse in the character of the bank's personnel, in its banking policies, in the safety of its deposits or in any other substantial way, it may require the bank to withdraw from the Federal Reserve System.' 161 F.2d 636, 643, 644. Accordingly, it remanded the case to the District Court for entry of a judgment construing Condition No. 4 to such effect. Since this ruling involves a matter of importance to the administration of the Federal Reserve Act, we brought the case here. 332 U.S. 755, 68 S.Ct. 55.

Condition No. 4 provides for withdrawal from membership in the Federal Reserve System, for violation of its provisions, 'within 60 days after written notice from the Board of Governors * * *.' Section 9 of the Federal Reserve Act authorizes the Board of Governors to revoke the membership status of a bank 'after hearing.'1 If

Page 430

the case contained no more than the foregoing elements, three questions would emerge:

(1) Was this action premature, brought as it was before the Board of Governors commenced revocation proceedings?

(2) If not, could the respondent attack the validity of a condition on the basis of which it had been accepted, and had enjoyed, membership? Compare Fahey v. Mallonee, 332 U.S. 245, 255, 67 S.Ct. 1552, 1556.

(3) If so, did the Board of Governors have power to impose the condition as a means of guarding against acquisition by Transamerica of an interest in respondent?

However, with due regard for the considerations that should guide us in rendering a declaratory judgment, the record as a whole requires us to dispose of the case without reaching any of these questions.

Extended correspondence between Marriner S. Eccles, the then Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and A. P. Giannini, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Transamerica, together with the testimony of Eccles before the House Committee on Banking and Currency, set forth the reason for the Board's insistence on the fourth condition. The Board sought to block 'acquisition by Transamerica of stock in independent unit banks, especially when it constitutes a means of evading the requirements of the Federal agencies who will not permit its banks to establish additional branches.' Hearings before Committee on Banking and Currency, House of Representatives, on H.R. 2634, 78th Cong. 1st Sess., p. 15. The Board was concerned not that Transamerica might purchase some shares of independent banks for the ordinary purposes of investment, but that it would buy into banks in order to acquire control, and thereby turn banks, though outwardly independent, into parts of its own banking network. The Board of Governors was therefore carrying out the policy underlying Con-

Page 431

dition No. 4 when it formally disavowed any intention to invoke that condition against respondent merely because of acquisition by Transamerica of an interest in the Bank, with no indication of subversion of its independence.2 This action by the Board was taken after it had satisfied itself that Transamerica's holding did not affect the...

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476 practice notes
  • King v. United States, No. 248-65.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • February 16, 1968
    ...of various forms of equitable relief are also pertinent to the use of the Declaratory Judgment Act (see, e. g., Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784 (1948); Wacker v. Bisson, 348 F.2d 602, 607 (C.A.5, 1965)) and the historical origins of declaratory relief a......
  • Sierra Club v. Morton, No. 74-1389
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 16, 1975
    ...826 (1941). See also Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148-149, 87 S.Ct. 1507, 18 L.Ed.2d 681 (1967); Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426, 434, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784 (1948); Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288, 324, 56 S.Ct. 466, 80 L.Ed. 688 (1936). Thus we think a justiciable......
  • Clark v. Valeo, No. 76-1825
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 6, 1977
    ...of equitable relief, should be granted only as a matter of judicial discretion, exercised in the public interest." Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 644, 92 L.Ed. 784. We have cautioned against declaratory judgments on issues of public moment, even falling short of co......
  • NATIONAL ASS'N FOR ADVANCE. OF COLORED PEOPLE v. Patty, Civ. A. No. 2435
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 21, 1958
    ...986, 86 L.Ed. 1355; Burford v. Sun Oil Co., 319 U.S. 315, 63 S.Ct. 1098, 87 L. Ed. 1424; Eccles v. Peoples Bank of Lakewood Village, Cal., 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784. Among cases from lower courts peculiarly applicable Lassiter v. Taylor, D.C., 152 F.Supp. 295, 298; Doby ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
476 cases
  • King v. United States, No. 248-65.
    • United States
    • Court of Federal Claims
    • February 16, 1968
    ...of various forms of equitable relief are also pertinent to the use of the Declaratory Judgment Act (see, e. g., Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784 (1948); Wacker v. Bisson, 348 F.2d 602, 607 (C.A.5, 1965)) and the historical origins of declaratory relief a......
  • Sierra Club v. Morton, No. 74-1389
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 16, 1975
    ...826 (1941). See also Abbott Laboratories v. Gardner, 387 U.S. 136, 148-149, 87 S.Ct. 1507, 18 L.Ed.2d 681 (1967); Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426, 434, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784 (1948); Ashwander v. TVA, 297 U.S. 288, 324, 56 S.Ct. 466, 80 L.Ed. 688 (1936). Thus we think a justiciable......
  • Clark v. Valeo, No. 76-1825
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 6, 1977
    ...of equitable relief, should be granted only as a matter of judicial discretion, exercised in the public interest." Eccles v. Peoples Bank, 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 644, 92 L.Ed. 784. We have cautioned against declaratory judgments on issues of public moment, even falling short of co......
  • NATIONAL ASS'N FOR ADVANCE. OF COLORED PEOPLE v. Patty, Civ. A. No. 2435
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • January 21, 1958
    ...986, 86 L.Ed. 1355; Burford v. Sun Oil Co., 319 U.S. 315, 63 S.Ct. 1098, 87 L. Ed. 1424; Eccles v. Peoples Bank of Lakewood Village, Cal., 333 U.S. 426, 431, 68 S.Ct. 641, 92 L.Ed. 784. Among cases from lower courts peculiarly applicable Lassiter v. Taylor, D.C., 152 F.Supp. 295, 298; Doby ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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