Some judges when confronted with a settlement between two parties, even if one of them is the government, take the position that they are only referees, and if the dispute has ended amicably, they are happy to do as the litigants wish. They sign off on the settlement and get credit for disposing of a case. Other judges do not view themselves as potted plants, and will not authorize a settlement that they believe is unjust, even if the parties fully consent to it. Think of a settlement in a civil case (here the S ecurities and Exchange Commission sued B ank of A merica ) or a plea agreement in a criminal case (in which the government has indicted the defendant) as an agreement between THREE parties: the plaintiff (or the prosecutors in a criminal case), the defendant, and the Court. All three must agree on the resolution of the case. If one of them does not agree with the other two, then there is no settlement, and the case goes to trial. In this SEC vs B of A case, the judge (who is personally known to me as brilliant and independent) apparently feels that B of A's acquisition of Merrill Lynch for $15 billion less than its true value was such an egregious violation of SEC regulations and corporate fiduciary duties that a fine of $33 million is insufficient to punish and deter. There is, of course a long back story here about what B of A knew, its efforts to pull the MAC trigger, and threats from Treasury and the Fed. The danger to Treasury, the Fed, the FDIC, and B of A , and potential enlightenment to the public, will come if the Court rejects all settlements and this case goes to trial. Then we will see the inner workings of the Treasury/Fed/big banking cabal at its fascistic worst.