Supreme Court Declines to Hear Case Challenging CFPB Constitutionality

Jan 14, 2019 | News

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case on Monday that would have challenged the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The case involved the State National Bank of Big Spring alongside two non-profit organizations that filed a petition for certiorari – a request for the Supreme Court to hear a case – that questioned whether the structure of the CFPB violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers clause.

It is rare for a case to be heard by the Supreme Court, but this particular case was even less likely since Justice Brett Kavanaugh would not have been able to participate in the case due to his previous rulings as a justice on the Ninth Circuit court. In their official response, the Supreme Court noted that “Justice Kavanaugh took no part in the consideration or decision of this petition.”

In December, the Trump Administration had told the Supreme Court that “the structure of the Bureau, including the for-cause removal restriction on its single director” warrants the court’s attention. This particular case, however, “would be a poor vehicle for considering the constitutionality of the Bureau’s structure because it is unlikely that the question would be considered by the full Court in this case.”

The petition for certiorari questioned whether the CFPB violated the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers by having a single director that “the President cannot remove from office for policy reasons, is exempted from Congress’s power of the purse and accompanying congressional oversight, and has no internal checks or balances … to mitigate this lack of accountability and restraint.” The petition also asks the Supreme Court to decide whether the Appropriations Clause “permits Congress to create perpetual, on demand funding streams for executive agencies that are unreviewably drawn from the coffers of other independent agencies.”

For more information on the original petition for certiorari, please click here.

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