Amdt14.S1.4.7.3 Banking, Wage Assignments, and Garnishment

Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Regulation of banks and banking has always been considered well within the police power of states, and the Fourteenth Amendment did not eliminate this regulatory authority. 1 A variety of regulations have been upheld over the years. For example, state banks are not deprived of property without due process by a statute subjecting them to assessments for a depositors’ guaranty fund. 2 Also, a law requiring savings banks to turn over deposits inactive for thirty years to the state (when the depositor cannot be found), with provision for payment to the depositor or his heirs on establishment of the right, does not effect an invalid taking of the property of said banks; nor does a statute requiring banks to turn over to the protective custody of the state deposits that, depending on the nature of the deposit, have been inactive ten or twenty-five years. 3

A state is acting clearly within its police power in fixing maximum rates of interest on money loaned within its border, and such regulation is within legislative discretion if not unreasonable or arbitrary. 4 Equally valid is a requirement that assignments of future wages as security for debts of less than $200, to be valid, must be accepted in writing by the employer, consented to by the assignors, and filed in public office. Such a requirement deprives neither the borrower nor the lender of his property without due process of law. 5

Footnotes

  1.  Doty v. Love, 295 U.S. 64 (1935) (rights of creditors in an insolvent bank not violated by a later statute permitting re-opening under a reorganization plan approved by the court, the liquidating officer, and by three-fourths of the creditors); Farmers & Merchants Bank v. Federal Reserve Bank, 262 U.S. 649 (1923) (Federal Reserve bank not unlawfully deprived of business rights of liberty of contract by a law which allows state banks to pay checks in exchange when presented by or through a Federal Reserve bank, post office, or express company and when not made payable otherwise by a maker).
  2.  Noble State Bank v. Haskell, 219 U.S. 104 (1911); Shallenberger v. First State Bank, 219 U.S. 114 (1911); Assaria State Bank v. Dolley, 219 U.S. 121 (1911); Abie State Bank v. Bryan, 282 U.S. 765 (1931).
  3.  Provident Savings Inst. v. Malone, 221 U.S. 660 (1911); Anderson Nat’l Bank v. Luckett, 321 U.S. 233 (1944). When a bank conservator appointed pursuant to a new statute has all the functions of a receiver under the old law, one of which is the enforcement on behalf of depositors of stockholders’ liability, which liability the conservator can enforce as cheaply as could a receiver appointed under the pre-existing statute, it cannot be said that the new statute, in suspending the right of a depositor to have a receiver appointed, arbitrarily deprives a depositor of his remedy or destroys his property without the due process of law. The depositor has no property right in any particular form of remedy. Gibbes v. Zimmerman, 290 U.S. 326 (1933).
  4.  Griffith v. Connecticut, 218 U.S. 563 (1910).
  5.  Mutual Loan Co. v. Martell, 222 U.S. 225 (1911).