Barnett Bank of Marion Cty., N. A. v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 25, 4 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

state statute enacted "for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance"—unless the federal statute "specifically relates to the business of insurance." McCarran-Ferguson Act, 15 U. S. C. 1012(b) (emphasis added). We decide that the McCarran-Ferguson Act's special anti-pre-emption rule does not govern this case, because the federal statute in question "specifically relates to the business of insurance." We conclude that, under ordinary pre-emption principles, the federal statute pre-empts the state statute, thereby prohibiting application of the state statute to prevent a national bank from selling insurance in a small town.


In 1916 Congress enacted a federal statute that says that certain national banks "may" sell insurance in small towns. It provides in relevant part:

"In addition to the powers now vested by law in national [banks] organized under the laws of the United States any such [bank] located and doing business in any place [with a population] . . . [of not more than] five thousand . . . may, under such rules and regulations as may be prescribed by the Comptroller of the Currency, act as the agent for any fire, life, or other insurance company authorized by the authorities of the State . . . to do business [there], . . . by soliciting and selling insurance . . . Provided, however, That no such bank shall . . . guarantee the payment of any premium . . . And provided further, That the bank shall not guarantee the truth of any statement made by an assured [when applying] . . . for insurance." Act of Sept. 7, 1916 (Federal Statute), 39 Stat. 753, as amended, 12 U. S. C. 92 (emphases changed).

In 1974 Florida enacted a statute that prohibits certain banks from selling most kinds of insurance. It says:

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