Under the Obama Administration’s Operation Choke Point initiative bank regulators sought to de-bank various legal industries such as payday lenders, firearms dealers, and home-based charities. Today, banks have increasingly acted on their own initiative to effectively operate a new voluntary form of Operation Choke Point. In January 2021, Florida’s Bank United closed Donald Trump’s personal bank account. Other banks have cut off others seemingly because of political views and have been pressured by activists to cut off funding to politically-disfavored industries, religious organizations, and others, effectively a new voluntary form of Operation Choke Point.
Is this voluntary activity the free exercise of business judgment, or is it inappropriate response to external pressure? What kind of unintended consequences might occur where banks use their business to punish based on viewpoint? Could this behavior make banks into utilities subject to more financial regulation or even government actors carrying out government directives? What are the appropriate responses to “cancel culture” or “choke point” tactics in banking? What steps are appropriate either through governmental or private actions?
- Hon. Paul S. Atkins, Chief Executive Officer, Patomak Global Partners LLC; Former Commissioner, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- Mr. John Court, Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Operations Officer, Bank Policy Institute
- Prof. Christopher Peterson, John J. Flynn Endowed Professor of Law, University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
- Prof. Todd J. Zywicki, George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University; Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
- Moderator: Hon. Eric Murphy, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
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