Be careful what you wish for.

Back in October, I noted in this space that the bankers planning lawsuits related to field of membership and member business lending might want to recall what happened the last time they won a major court battle against the National Credit Union Administration and, by extension, the credit union industry.

That banker win galvanized the credit union community like never before and led to a lobbying effort that culminated in landslide votes in both the House and Senate, with a bill designed to overturn a key aspect of the Supreme Court’s decision being signed into law in just a matter of a few months, rather than a few decades, as per usual.

That herculean effort catapulted the relatively sleepy credit union community from near invisibility to being a well-known force to be reckoned with on Capitol Hill. Though credit unions had to accept some painful compromises along the way, some might argue bankers might have wanted to think twice before launching an eerily similar court battle not 20 years later.

But as Credit Union Journal’s special report uncovers, bankers aren’t the only ones who may want to be careful what they wish for. Should the current legal challenges facing NCUA eventually head to the halls of Congress, credit unions will be faced with a far different political arena this time around—more combative, more fractured and more unpredictable—and without the same do-or-die urgency to their cause this time around.

As the credit union faithful gather on Capitol Hill this week, building—and rebuilding—their relationships with lawmakers might be a much different experience than in years past.

Editor in Chief Lisa Freeman can be reached at