Supreme Court’s Ruling On CFPB-A Good Advance For Accountability, But Not a Great One

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The Supreme Court ruled today in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). CEI filed an amicus in the case, Seila Law, was a co-plaintiff in an earlier constitutional challenge to the CFPB, State National Bank v. Mnuchin, S. Ct. No. 18-307, and was co-counsel in the Free Enterprise Fund case that was extensively cited in today’s ruling.​

CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman explains that the court today didn’t go far enough in curtailing run-away regulator power.

Statement by Sam Kazman:

“Today’s ruling in Seila Law that Congress cannot shield the CFPB Director from being fired at will by the President is a much-needed win for political accountability. However, the Court should have gone further and ruled the CFPB itself unconstitutional.

“As prior rulings on the CFPB make clear, this agency’s powers are unprecedented in their magnitude, making it all the more important that, if an agency is to exercise them, it do so under presidential control. However, it is also clear that Congress intended the CFPB to be free of political control.  For that reason, putting this agency under presidential control effectively creates a new entity that runs counter to congressional intent.  

“Moreover, retaining the CFPB’s financial independence from Congress sets a dangerous precedent. After all, what agency wouldn’t like to be financially independent, free to draw its funding at will? If the CFPB changes from being an administrative outlier to becoming an agency role model, that would become a boon to the Administrative State and a setback for limited government.”

Statement by Kent Lassman, CEI President:

“The ruling in Seila Law highlights the significant problems created by a regulatory state that too often operates outside the three branches of government. The Constitution sets limits on legislative, executive, and judicial power that neither yesterday’s New Dealers nor today’s Progressives can rightly set aside. In time, we’ll see this case as one in a series, building on the 2010 ruling in Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, to emphasize the rule of law and return basic powers to communities, families, and individuals.”