AP Photo/Elise Amendola On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down the original structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as unconstitutional, ruling that the way the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) set up the CFPB violated the Separation of Powers under the Constitution. Yet Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), CFPB’s architect, claimed victory nonetheless, because the Court preserved the CFPB’s existence, claiming that the unconstitutional directorship was “severable” from the rest of the legislation.
“Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture: after years of industry attacks and GOP opposition, a conservative Supreme Court recognized what we all knew: the [CFPB] itself and the law that created it is constitutional. The CFPB is here to stay,” Warren insisted, responding to the Court’s decision in Selia Law v. CFPB (2020) .
The case revolved around the constitutionality of the CFPB’s original structure. As Chief Justice John Roberts explained in the syllabus for the case, “Congress gave the CFPB extensive rulemaking, enforcement, and adjudicatory powers, including the authority to conduct investigations, issue subpoenas and civil investigative demands, initiate administrative adjudications, prosecute civil actions in federal court, and issue binding decisions in administrative proceedings. The CFPB may seek restitution, disgorgement, injunctive relief, and significant civil penalties for violations of the 19 federal statutes under its purview. So far, the agency has obtained over $11 billion in relief for more than 25 million consumers.”
“Unlike traditional independent agencies headed by multimember boards or commissions, the CFPB is led by a single Director, who is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a five-year term, during which the President may remove the Director only for ‘inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.’ The CFPB receives its funding outside the annual appropriations process from the Federal Reserve, […]