While there has been a lot of attention over Judge Lamberth’s ruling on the shareholders’ cases regarding Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorships, much less has been given to Judge Cooke’s dismissal of Samuels v. FHFA (No. 13-22399 S.D. Fla. ) (Sept. 29, 2014 ). The low-income and organizational plaintiffs in Samuels challenged the FHFA’s decision to suspend Fannie and Freddie’s obligation to fund the Housing Trust Fund after they entered into conservatorship. The Housing Trust Fund was to be funded by contributions by that were based on Fannie and Freddie’s annual purchases. The FHFA took the position that they GSEs need not pay into the fund while they themselves were in such a precarious financial position. Judge Cooke held that “The Individual and Organizational Plaintiffs lack Article III standing because their alleged injuries are too remote from and not fairly traceable to the Defendants’ allegedly unlawful conduct.” (13)
I found the dicta in the case to be the most interesting. The court found that the relevant provision from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008
provides no meaningful standards for determining when “an enterprise” is financially instable, undercapitalized, or in jeopardy of unsuccessfully completing a capital restoration plan. Considering the history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the government’s placing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship; the Treasury Department providing liquidity to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac through preferred stock purchase agreements, the mortgage backed securities purchase program, and an emergency credit facility; it is not for this Court to judicially review Defendants’ statutorily mandated suspension of payments into the Housing Trust Fund. (13)
My takeaway from this opinion is that we now have another federal judge finding that the federal government is to be given great deference in its handling of the financial crisis. And this deference derives not just from the text of the relevant statute but also from the particular historical events that led to its adoption and that followed it. This seems like an important trend, as far as I am concerned.