Supreme Court to Take Up Constitutionality of CFPB in March

Dec 27, 2019Litigation, News

On March 3, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a landmark case that will determine whether the leadership structure of the CFPB is constitutional. Opponents of the Bureau have long argued that the Bureau’s leadership by a single director—and not by a bipartisan commission—violates the Constitution. The Court last year declined to hear a different case challenging the Bureau’s structure.

SCOTUSblog reporter Amy L. Howe described the case as one of the “highest-profile” cases the Court will hear in its upcoming session.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in Seila Law that the CFPB leadership structure was constitutional, so Seila Law filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to review the finding.

According to Howe, “the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit conceded that Seila’s argument was ‘not without force,’ but it ultimately concluded that the Supreme Court’s cases point in the other direction. Although the director can only be removed for cause, the court of appeals reasoned, that restriction does not ‘impede the President’s ability to perform his constitutional duty to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.’”

For the first time since the founding of the CFPB, the Department of Justice and agency leadership will not be supporting the leadership structure in the case. Instead, the Court has appointed Paul Clement, a former U.S. Solicitor General under President George W. Bush, to argue on behalf of the Bureau. Clement has appeared before the Court more than 95 times over the course of his career.


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