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Cancel Culture Comes to Banking: Should Banks Be Allowed to Cancel Individuals and Industries Based on their Political or Religious Beliefs?

Daniel Wheeler
Todd J. Zywicki

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Bank accounts provide access not only to credit but basic banking and payment services, such as checking and savings accounts. In January 2021, Florida’s Bank United closed Donald Trump’s personal bank account. Other banks have cut off other individuals seemingly because of their political views and have been pressured by activist groups to cut off funding to politically-disfavored industries, such as fossil fuels. These steps follow on the back of the Obama Administration’s Operation Choke Point initiative, under which bank regulators used their supervisory power to de-bank various legal industries such as payday lenders, firearms dealers, home-based charities, and allegedly racist materials. Today, banks have increasingly acted on their own initiative to operate a new voluntary form of Operation Choke Point effectively.

On June 8, 2021, the Federalist Society’s Silicon Valley and San Francisco lawyers chapters hosted a discussion on the growing problem of “cancel culture” in the banking industry and what steps should be considered to address it as well as the more general implications for other heavily regulated but crucially important industries beyond banking services.


  • John Allison, former CEO of BB&T Corp. & former CEO, Cato Institute
  • Todd Zywicki, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute & George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School 
  • Moderator: Daniel Wheeler, CEO, Sunstone Trust Company

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

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