Supreme Court Evaluates the Future of the CFPB and Other Agencies
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments to determine the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other independent agencies. In the case of Seila Law LLC vs. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Court must decide if the structure of the agency is constitutional or if it “violates the separation of powers.”
The CFPB was established in 2008 in response to the economic crash. The agency was designed to protect consumers and the U.S. economy by monitoring the mortgage market, personal lending, and other financial sectors.
The CFPB conducted an investigation against California-based law firm Seila Law, alleging that the firm illegally charged customers upfront for debt relief services and falsely represented what those services would include. Seila Law refused to give up certain documents, claiming the bureau’s structure was unconstitutional. Specifically, the law firm focused on the fact that the director of the CFPB cannot be fired at will. The Bureau’s director can only be fired for inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance.
The case has already been through the lower courts, ruling in favor of the CFPB. The Supreme Court will have the final say in the matter. This decision may also impact the leadership structure of other independent federal agencies.
The CFPB experienced a change of leadership in 2017, when former director Richard Cordray stepped down from the position to run for Governor of Ohio. Kathy Kraninger was appointed as the new director the following year.