(Adds Fed reaction)
By Emily Stephenson
WASHINGTON, June 2 A group of retail merchants
will ask the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case involving
Federal Reserve rules that allow banks to charge debit card
"swipe fees" that retailers view as too high, an attorney for
the merchants said on Monday.
"Given how extensive these fees are and how they affect
virtually every transaction that takes place in the United
States...it's a serious case that the Supreme Court ought to
hear," said Doug Kantor, an attorney with Steptoe & Johnson in
Washington who represents the retailers.
Fed spokeswoman Barbara Hagenbaugh said the Fed was aware of
the retailers' decision and would work on a response.
Businesses pay the fees, also known as interchange fees, to
banks when customers use debit cards to purchase goods or
services. The fees are set by Visa and MasterCard
and reimburse banks for costs involved in providing the cards.
The 2010 Dodd-Frank law called for the Fed to cap the fees,
which were about 44 cents per transaction at the time. Retailers
had argued the fees were too high and led to higher prices for
The Fed in 2011 limited swipe fees to 21 cents per
transaction, but retailers said the law intended the cap to be
The National Retail Federation, whose members include
Wal-Mart and JCPenney, the National Restaurant
Association, and other groups, sued the Fed in 2011.
A U.S. district court in July 2013 sided with the retailers.
The Fed appealed, and an three-judge appeals panel in March
reversed the lower court's decision and upheld the Fed's rules.
The retailers had the option of appealing to the full
appellate court or directly to the Supreme Court. The court now
will decide whether or not to hear the case.
(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by David Gregorio and