The National Retail Federation (NRF) requested on Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court review a recent ruling by a lower court that left the Federal Reserve’s controversial cap on swipe fees in place.
The NRF filed a petition—along with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), Food Marketing Institute, National Restaurant Association and two original plaintiffs in the case—appealing a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to overturn an earlier ruling that ruled in the NRF’s favor.
“There’s so much at stake here for U.S. retailers and their customers that we have no choice but to pursue this case as far as possible,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “When a federal agency blatantly disregards the clear intent of legislation passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, that’s a dispute that cannot be ignored.”
In March, the D.C. court overturned a July 2013 ruling by Judge Richard Leon that ordered the Federal Reserve to recalculate the cap at a lower level. The central bank was required, under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, to adopt rules to make swipe fees “reasonable and proportional” to actual transaction processing costs.
The groups maintain that the circuit court made a number of legal errors and “bent over backward to find ambiguity” in the mandate while ignoring the “text, structure and purpose” of the law.
Before the cap was set, swipe fees averaged 45 cents per transaction. The Fed initially proposed a cap no higher than 12 cents but later settled on 21 cents. The NRF said the 21-cent figure included costs that were not designed to be calculated in under the Dodd-Frank Act.
“This case is of staggering importance,” the petitioners said. “The economic burden of the [Fed’s] error will be felt virtually every time a consumer swipes a debit card.”