Legal Brawl

Wall Street to Fight Bank Tax

President Obama may have trouble recouping those bailout funds: Wall Street's main lobbying arm has hired Carter G. Phillips of Sidley Austin, a lawyer who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times, to investigate whether Obama's proposed bank tax might unconstitutional on the grounds that it unfairly targets and penalizes big banks and is arbitrary and punitive. Because Congress has not yet proposed formal tax legislation, a spokesman for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association said that a discussion of "potential actions beyond opposing the proposal itself" was "premature." A court case could backfire on the banks, though, by provoking additional populist rage or splintering the financial lobby.