Barnett Bank of Marion Cty., N. A. v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 25, 18 (1996)

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Opinion of the Court

islation to the attention of interested parties, and thereby normally guarantee, should the proposal become law, that Congress will have focused upon its insurance-related effects.

An amicus argues that our interpretation would give the Act "little meaning," because "whenever a state statute 'regulates' the business of insurance, any conflicting federal statute necessarily will 'specifically relate' to the insurance business." Brief for American Council of Life Insurance as Amicus Curiae 4. We disagree. Many federal statutes with potentially pre-emptive effect, such as the bankruptcy statutes, use general language that does not appear to "specifically relate" to insurance; and where those statutes conflict with state law that was enacted "for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance," the McCarran-Ferguson Act's anti-pre-emption rule will apply. See generally Fabe, supra, at 501 (noting the parties' agreement that federal bankruptcy priority rules, although conflicting with state law, do not "specifically relate" to the business of insurance).

The lower courts argued that the Federal Statute's 1916 date of enactment was significant, because Congress would have then believed that state insurance regulation was beyond its "Commerce Clause" power to affect. The lower courts apparently thought that Congress therefore could not have intended the Federal Statute to pre-empt contrary state law. The short answer to this claim is that there is no reason to think that Congress believed state insurance regulation beyond its constitutional powers to affect—insofar as Congress exercised those powers to create, to empower, or to regulate national banks. See McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316 (1819); Farmers' and Mechanics' Nat. Bank v. Dearing, 91 U. S. 29, 33 (1875); see also, e. g., Easton v. Iowa, 188 U. S., at 238. We have explained, see Part II, supra, why we conclude that Congress indeed did intend the Federal Statute to pre-empt conflicting state law.

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