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only by individuals or corporations not coming at all, actually or potentially, in competition with national banks. And the far-reaching effect of this error becomes manifest when it is borne in mind that plainly the particular functions enumerated in the statute were conferred upon national banks because of the fact that they were enjoyed as the result of state legislation by state corporations, rivals in a greater or less degree of national banks.
4. In view of the express ruling that the enjoyment of the powers in question by the national bank would not be in contravention of the state law, it follows that the reference of the court below to the state authority over the particular subjects which the statute deals with must have proceeded upon the erroneous assumption that because a particular function was subject to be regulated by the state law, therefore Congress was without power to give a national bank the right to carry on such functions. But if this be what the statement signifies, the conflict between it and the rule settled in McCulloch v. Maryland and Osborn v. Bank, is manifest. What those cases established was that although a business was of a private nature and subject to state regulation, if it was of such a character as to cause it to be incidental to the successful discharge by a bank chartered by Congress of its public functions, it was competent for Congress to give the bank the power to exercise such private business in coöperation with or as part of its public authority. Manifestly this excluded the power of the State in such case, although it might possess in a general sense authority to regulate such busiiness, to use that authority to prohibit such business from being united by Congress with the banking function, since to do so would be but the exertion of state authority to prohibit Congress from exerting a power which under the Constitution it had a right to exercise. From this it must also follow that even although a business be of such a character that it is not inherently considered susceptible of
being included by Congress in the powers conferred on national banks, that rule would cease to apply if by state law state banking corporations, trust companies, or others which by reason of their business are rivals or quasi-rivals of national banks are permitted to carry on such business. This must be since the State may not by legislation create a condition as to a particular business which would bring about actual or potential competition with the business of national banks and at the same time deny the power of Congress to meet such created condition by legislation appropriate to avoid the injury which otherwise would be suffered by the national agency. Of course as the general subject of regulating the character of business just referred to is peculiarly within state administrative control, state regulations for the conduct of such business, if not discriminatory or so unreasonable as to justify the conclusion that they necessarily would so operate, would be controlling upon banks chartered by Congress when they came in virtue of authority conferred upon them by Congress to exert such particular powers. And these considerations clearly were in the legislative mind when it enacted the statute in question. This result would seem to be plain when it is observed (a) that the statute authorizes the exertion of the particular functions by national banks when not in contravention of the state law, that is, where the right to perform them is expressly given by the state law or what is equivalent is deducible from the state law because that law has given the functions to state banks or corporations whose business in a greater or less degree rivals that of national banks, thus engendering from the state law itself an implication of authority in Congress to do as to national banks that which the state law has done as to other corporations; and (b) that the statute subjects the right to exert the particular functions which it confers on national banks to the administrative authority of the Reserve Board, giving besides to that Board power to
adopt rules regulating the exercise of the functions conferred, thus affording the means of coördinating the functions when permitted to be dischargedby national banks with the reasonable and non-discriminating provisions of state law regulating their exercise as to state corporations, --the whole to the end that harmony and the concordant exercise of the national and state power might result.
Before passing to the question of procedure we think it necessary to do no more than say that a contention which was pressed in argument and which it may be was indirectly referred to in the opinion of the court below that the authority given by the section to the Reserve Board was void because conferring legislative power on that board, is so plainly adversely disposed of by many previous adjudications as to cause it to be necessary only to refer to them. Field v. Clark, 143 U. S. 649; Buttfield v. Stranahan, 192 U. S. 470; United States v. Grimaud, 220 U. S. 506; Monongahela Bridge Company v. United States, 216 U. S. 177; Intermountain Rate Cases, 234 U. S. 476.
The question of the competency of the procedure and the right to administer the remedy sought, then. remains. It involves a challenge of the right of the State Attorney General to resort in a state court to proceedings in the nature of quo warranto to test the power of the corporation to exert the particular functions given by the act of Congress because they were inherently federal in character, enjoyed by a federal corporation and susceptible only of being directly tested in a federal court. Support for the challenge in argument is rested upon Ableman v. Booth, 21 How. 506; Tarble's Case, 13 Wall, 397; Van Reed v. People's National Bank, 198 U. S. 554, 557; State ex rel. Wilcox v. Curtis, 35 Connecticut, 374. But without inquiring into the merits of the doctrine upon which the proposition rests we think when the contention is tested by a consideration of the subject-matter of this particular controversy it cannot be sustained. In other words, we
Opinion of the Court.
244 U. S.
are of opinion that as the particular functions in question by the express terms of the act of Congress were given only "when not in contravention of State or local law," the state court was, if not expressly, at least impliedly authorized by Congress to consider and pass upon the question whether the particular power was or was not in contravention of the state law, and we place our conclusion on that ground. We find no ambiguity in the text, but if it be that ambiguity is latent in the provision, a consideration of its purpose would dispel doubt especially in view of the interpretation which we have given the statute and the contrast between the clause governing the subject by the state law and the provision conferring administrative power on the Reserve Board. The nature of the subject dealt with adds cogency to this view since that subject involves the action of state courts of probate in a universal sense, implying from its very nature the duty of such courts to pass upon the question and the power of the court below within the limits of state jurisdiction to settle so far as the State was concerned the question for all such courts by one suit, thus avoiding the confusion which might arise in the entire system of state probate proceedings and the very serious injury to many classes of society which also might be occasioned. And our conclusion on this subject is fortified by the terms of § 57, c. 106, 13 Stat. 116, making controversies concerning national banks cognizable in state courts because of their intimate relation to many state laws and regulations, although without the grant of the act of Congress such controversies would have been federal in character.
As it follows from what we have said that the court below erred in declaring the section of the act of Congress to be unconstitutional, the judgment must be reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.
And it is so ordered.
VAN DEVANTER, J., dissenting.
MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER, dissenting.
I dissent from the conclusion that this proceeding could be brought and maintained in the state court. It is an information in the nature of a quo warranto against a federal corporation, a national bank. It calls in question the bank's right to exercise a privilege claimed under an act of Congress, the privilege, under the terms of the act, being conferred only when "not in contravention of State or local law." The information was brought by the Attorney General of the State in his own name, and charges that the bank's exercise of the privilege is “in contempt of the people of the State," by which it is meant, as the record discloses, first, that the exercise of the privilege by the bank is in contravention of the law of the State, and, second, that the act of Congress under which the privilege is claimed transcends the power of Congress and is void. The state court dealt with both grounds. The first was overruled and the second sustained. The judgment rendered enjoins and excludes the bank from exercising the privilege.
The writ of quo warranto was a prerogative writ and the modern proceeding by information is not different in that respect. When it is brought to exclude the exercise of a franchise, privilege or power claimed under the United States it can only be brought in the name of the United States and by its representative, or in such other mode as it may have sanctioned. Wallace v. Anderson, 5 Wheat. 291; Territory v. Lockwood, 3 Wall. 236; Newman v. Frizzell, 238 U. S. 537. As is said in the Lockwood Case, "the right to institute such proceedings is inherently in the Government of the nation.” This is particularly true of national banks, for they not only derive all their powers from the United States, but are instrumentalities created by it for a public purpose, and “are not to be interfered with by state legislative or judicial action, except so far