We’ve been told that Constitutional scholars have said that repeated Supreme Court decisions have found real estate transactions to be beyond the reach of Commerce clause, and hence not subject to Federal intervention. So the idea that MERS can be legitimated by Congress appears far-fetched.
But what are the problems with MERS? The focus so far has been on its questionable legal standing, but its operational failings are every bit as serious.
Although critics have provided a number of arguments against MERS, the most fundamental relate to MERS’ claim that it acts as mortgagee of record. While the language it uses to register mortgages in the name of MERS in local courthouses says it is both the nominee for the mortgagee and the mortgagee (a legal impossibility), in depositions its executives have repeatedly said that MERS is the mortgagee (see here and here for examples).
In 45 states, that position would seem to be a non-starter. In those states, the note (the borrower IOU) is the critical document; in these states, the mortgage is a mere “accessory” to the note and has no independent force. Indeed, in these states, you cannot be a mortgagee unless you are also the creditor. But in depositions, MERS has repeatedly acknowledged that it does not lend money and does not collect interest payments. But MERS effectively takes the position that you can separate the mortgage from the note and reunite them, a position that was rejected in an 1873 (no typo) Supreme Court decision, Carpenter v. Longan (Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. 271, 21 L.Ed. 313 )):
.The note and mortgage are inseparable; the former as essential, the latter as an incident. An assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it, while an assignment of the latter alone is a nullity.
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