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  1. Regulation
August 19, 2014

NRF asks US Supreme Court to examine swipe fee decision

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has asked the US Supreme Court to review a March ruling that upheld the Federal Reserve's debit card swipe fee rules.

By Verdict Staff

The National Retail Federation (NRF) has asked the US Supreme Court to review a March ruling that upheld the Federal Reserve’s debit card swipe fee rules.

Plaintiffs -the NRF, National Association of Convenience Stores, the Food Marketing Institute, the National Restaurant Association, NRF member Boscov’s Department Store and NACS member Miller Oil Co.- in their petition urged the court to examine the decision that left the swipe fee cap at 21 cents per transaction rather than lowering it.

NRF senior vice president and general counsel Mallory Duncan said: "There’s so much at stake here for US retailers and their customers that we have no choice but to pursue this case as far as possible.

"When a federal agency blatantly disregards the clear intent of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, that’s a dispute that cannot be ignored," Duncan added.

Under Dodd-Frank, the Fed calculated the average incremental cost at 4 cents per transaction and initially proposed a cap no higher than 12 cents, but eventually decided 21 cents.

NRF argued that the 21-cent figure included costs that went beyond those allowed under the legislation and filed suit against the Fed in US District Court in 2011 along with other retail groups.

In July 2013, Judge Richard Leon ruled in NRF’s favor and ordered the Fed to recalculate the cap at a lower level, but the Fed appealed.

This March, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned Leon’s ruling, citing "ambiguity" in the 2010 law and saying the Fed based the cap on a "reasonable interpretation" of the measure.

"This case is of staggering importance," the petition filed said. "The economic burden of the [Fed’s] error will be felt virtually every time a consumer swipes a debit card."

The petition argued that the Circuit Court made a number of legal errors and "bent over backward to find ambiguity" in Dodd-Frank while ignoring the ‘text, structure and purpose" of the law.

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