Publicaba en su edición del pasado miércoles The New York Times una noticia que alertaba de un próximo pronunciamiento del Tribunal Supremo que ha de tener un notable impacto sobre el sistema financiero, tanto para las entidades como para sus clientes: Can Cities Sue Banks Over Predatory Loans? Supreme Court Will Decide. La cuestión debatida pasa por reconocer o denegar a determinados municipios la posibilidad de comparecer en juicio en defensa de sus ciudadanos y ante determinadas prácticas contractuales en materia de financiación e las viviendas. La norma en cuestión es la Fair Housing Act.
La noticia redactada por Adam Liptak es la crónica de la vista pública y me permito reproducir los párrafos más explicativos de los términos del debate y de la posición expresada por algunos de los magistrados:
“Justice Elena Kagan said the law was a “distinctive kind of anti-discrimination statute, which really is focusing on community harms.”
“Here the cities are standing up and saying, ‘Every time you do this redlining and this reverse redlining, essentially a community is becoming blighted.’ And who better than the city to recognize that interest and to assert it?” she asked.”
“Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. appeared to disagree, telling Mr. Peck that the harms Miami claimed to have suffered were secondhand.
“Your injuries are derivative of the injury to the homeowners who had the subprime mortgages and who suffered the foreclosure and so on,” the chief justice told him. “I understand your argument that you’re down the line, but I don’t see how you can say that your loss of property taxes is a direct injury.”
La preocupación fundamental es que el pronunciamiento a favor de esa legitimación abra paso a una sucesión de demandas por daños indirectos en los más diversos ámbitos:
“Other justices worried that a ruling for Miami would allow all sorts of people and entities to sue for indirect harm from discriminatory practices.”
La defensa de los bancos incidía en la naturaleza del daño alegado:
“The law allows suits from “aggrieved persons.” No one disputed that cities may sometimes count as persons in a legal sense, but Neal K. Katyal, a lawyer for the banks, said Miami was not aggrieved just because it asserted an indirect financial injury.
He said the city had tried to piggyback on the borrowers’ interest in being free from discrimination and had “cut and paste” their grievances into its lawsuit”.
La posición de Miami:
“Mr. Peck, the city’s lawyer, said its harm was more direct.
“The banks’ practice of providing minority borrowers with more expensive and riskier loans than they qualified for, or that nonminority borrowers received, actually frustrated and counteracted the city’s efforts on fair housing,” he said”.
La futura resolución, sus antecedentes y sus efectos:
“The court heard a single hour of argument in two consolidated cases, Bank of America v. Miami, No. 15-1111, and Wells Fargo v. Miami, No. 15-1112.
A trial court dismissed the suits in 2014, saying the city had not demonstrated that its claims were covered by the housing law. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, in Atlanta, reversed those rulings last year, allowing the cases to proceed. The appeals court said it was enough for the city to contend that it had “suffered an economic injury resulting from a racially discriminatory housing policy.”
A 4-4 tie in the Supreme Court, which seemed a viable prospect on Tuesday, would leave the appeals court’s ruling in place, handing a victory to Miami but setting no national precedent.”
Quien desee profundizar en el desarrollo de la vista puede consultar aquí la transcripción de la misma, interesante por la cuestión de fondo y sugerente por el propio desarrollo del debate y las intervenciones de las partes y de los magistrados.