Supreme Court struggle with NY credit-card surcharge law

The Supreme Court is trying to figure out whether a New York law that prohibits businesses from imposing fees on credit-card purchases violates merchants' free-speech rights.

The justices engaged in an hour of argument Tuesday that was entertaining, but inconclusive.

At issue are swipe fees that merchants must pay to the credit-card issuer each time a customer charges a purchase. The fees typically range from 2 percent to 3 percent and generate more than $50 billion a year.

New York is among 10 states that regulate how businesses can pass the fees along to customers. New York merchants can offer discounts from the published price for people who pay in cash. But the business cannot tack a surcharge onto the published price when customers use credit cards.