The Supreme Court's June 2009 decision in Cuomo v. Clearing House Association LLC has been aptly described as a surprise that sent shock waves through the banking industry and that could generate a wave of state proceedings against national banks.
The case involved the New York attorney general's issuance to several national banks of administrative requests for nonpublic information. The court concluded that the attorney general's "requests" were mandatory and therefore held that Cuomo had asserted a right to inspect the banks' records at any time. This right is known legally as "visitorial power." Because visitorial power over national banks is reserved exclusively to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Supreme Court invalidated the attorney general's requests. This decision confirmed that state attorneys general cannot conduct administrative "fishing expeditions" into national bank records.