The Supreme Court is considering an appeals court ruling that the government says has "wrongly impeded" the Federal Reserve system's ability to prevent formation of unsound bank holding ocmpanies.
After it returns from a recess on Feb. 21, the high court will announce whether it will grant the government's petition to review the decision or will let is stand.
The decision was made in July by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. It involved First Lincolnwood Corp., which was organized to become a bank holding company by acquiring 80 per cent of the common stock of the First National Bank of Lincolnwood, Ill.
The ruling overturned a January 1976 order in which the Federal Reserve Board denied an application by First Lincolnwood to acquire the bank. The order expressed concern over a $3.7 million debt and found the acquisition to be not in the public interest under the Bank Holding Company Act.
In a brief for the government, Solicitor General Wade H. McCree wrote, "The court of appeals should have deferred to the board's long-standing interpretation of its authority under the act. Instead, the court engrafted onto . . . the act a limitation upon the board's authority . . . that would seriously impair the board's ability to prevent reformation of bank holding companies that would weaken the country's banking system."
The brief for First Lincolnwood termed the 7th Circuit ruling "entirely consistent with prior decisions and with the legislative history of the law." In addition, the decision "leaves no unregulated areas which should be regulated" and was made in a probably unique case - one "of great importance to certain individuals, but . . . not of great public importance," the brief said.
The bank had a troubled history marked by the indictment of a former chairman and a former president in a case relating to manipulation of its stock on the American Stock Exchange.
First Lincolnwood's acquisition of the stock would have shifted ownership of the bank from individuals to a holding company owned by the same individuals.