Durbin Judge Lights a Fire under Fed

Aug. 15, 2013

The federal judge who overturned the Durbin Amendment was at it again yesterday as he castigated the Fed in a hearing for not being ready with a plan to rewrite the debit interchange rules he voided two weeks ago. According to published reports, when a Fed attorney dodged a question about the steps it would take to reconsider the rules governing debit interchange if it decided not to appeal U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon’s July 31 ruling, Leon let his displeasure show.

“[The Fed Board of Governors has] had their briefings,” Leon said. “They know what the state of play is. It’s time to make decisions. They can come from Nantucket, they can come from where they are on vacation.”

The judge also referenced a merchant-led lawsuit seeking repayment of millions in interchange from issuers and card networks. He said he wants briefs from both sides in that dispute, and did not shut the door on ruling in favor of retailers.

While the Fed has two months to decide whether or not to appeal his ruling, Leon said he wouldn’t “sit around and do nothing for 60 days.” The judge set a deadline to have a final interim rule in place by the end of October and scheduled a hearing for Aug. 21 when he expects the Fed to have a concrete plan for moving forward.