Friday, 03 July, 2020


Supreme Court gives president more consumer agency control

Supreme Court gives president more consumer agency control Supreme Court strikes down CFPB leadership structure
Noah Ferguson | 29 June, 2020, 22:07

"Instead of placing the agency under the leadership of a board with multiple members, Congress provided that the CFPB would be led by a single director, who serves for a longer term than the president and can not be removed by the president except for inefficiency, neglect or malfeasance". The court's four liberals agreed, though they disagreed the restrictions were improper.

"The CFPB director has no boss, peers or voters to report to", Chief Justice John Roberts wrote.

Roberts' holding that the CFBP structure is unconstitutional was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh.

"The Court's ruling eliminates the Bureau's independence through the creation of an at-will Director, further exacerbating the political influence that has already plagued the Bureau", said Consumer Bankers Associations President and CEO Richard Hunt. Kathy Kraninger, who was nominated to her current post by the president in 2018, had said she believed the president could fire her at any time.

Established after the financial crisis, the role of CFPB president was created to protect the bureau's independence and its statute said the president could remove its director only for cause, defined as "inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance".

Defenders of the provision said the rules ensured independence of the watchdog agency, keeping it insulated from politics with a leader not directly answerable to the White House and only removable for cause.

"What does the Constitution say about the separation of powers-and particularly about the President's removal authority? I respectfully dissent", Kagan wrote.

The CFPB is a signature achievement of Obama and Warren, a former 2020 Democratic candidate for president.

After the ruling, Warren wrote in a series of tweets that the Supreme Court had "handed over more power to Wall Street's army of lawyers and lobbyists to push out a director who fights for the American people".

There are, of course, other federal regulatory agencies with a single director, including the Social Security Administration, and it was not entirely clear from the decision whether the independence of these other single-director agencies could now be thrown in doubt as well. Not the banking industry.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a protest in front of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headquarters in Washington on November 28, 2017. Instead, the Court has sided with those who have spent the last decade trying to undermine the CFPB's effectiveness and weaken its authority, efforts that have often been led by the industries the agency is charged with regulating.

The case before the Supreme Court was brought by a California law firm that objected to the CFPB's demand for information regarding an investigation of its practices in resolving consumer debt.

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