Barnett Bank of Marion Cty., N. A. v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 25, 6 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

The District Court decided both (1) that the Federal Statute did not fall within the McCarran-Ferguson Act's exception because it did not "specifically relat[e] to the business of insurance"; and (2) that the State Statute was a "law enacted . . . for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance." Barnett Bank of Marion County, N. A. v. Gallagher, 839 F. Supp. 835, 840-841, 843 (MD Fla. 1993) (internal quotation marks omitted). Consequently, the McCarran-Ferguson Act, in the District Court's view, instructs courts not to "constru[e]" the Federal Statute "to invalidate" the State Statute. 15 U. S. C. 1012(b). The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, for similar reasons, agreed that the Federal Statute did not pre-empt the State Statute. Barnett Bank of Marion County, N. A. v. Gallagher, 43 F. 3d 631, 634-637 (1995).

We granted certiorari due to uncertainty among lower courts about the pre-emptive effect of this Federal Statute. See Owensboro Nat. Bank v. Stephens, 44 F. 3d 388 (CA6 1994) (pre-emption of Kentucky statute that prevents national banks from selling insurance in small towns); First Advantage Ins., Inc. v. Green, 652 So. 2d 562 (La. Ct. App.), cert. and review denied, 654 So. 2d 331 (1995) (no preemption). We now reverse the Eleventh Circuit.


We shall put the McCarran-Ferguson Act's special anti-pre-emption rule to the side for the moment, and begin by asking whether, in the absence of that rule, we should construe the Federal Statute to pre-empt the State Statute. This question is basically one of congressional intent. Did Congress, in enacting the Federal Statute, intend to exercise its constitutionally delegated authority to set aside the laws of a State? If so, the Supremacy Clause requires courts to follow federal, not state, law. U. S. Const., Art. VI, cl. 2; see California Fed. Sav. & Loan Assn. v. Guerra, 479 U. S. 272, 280-281 (1987) (reviewing pre-emption doctrine).

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