Oct. 11, 2016
Court Ruling Threatens Consumer Protection Agency’s Independence
Statement of Robert Weissman, President, Public Citizen
Note: Today the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the structure of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is unconstitutional because its director isn’t sufficiently answerable to the president.
The D.C. Circuit’s decision eliminating the CFPB director’s independence threatens the ability of the agency to be a tough protector of consumer interests. If not reversed on further review, the decision will make it incumbent on future presidents to shield the agency from improper political interference and to encourage it to maintain its aggressive posture.
No matter how the CFPB is structured, it is crucial that it continue its work to protect consumers from abusive and deceptive practices, such as unscrupulous behavior by predatory lenders that entrap consumers in a cycle of debt and unfair arbitration clauses that rip off consumers by preventing them from getting their day in court.
The CFPB has a track record of putting out strong new rules efficiently and taking effective enforcement actions against companies, including top executives. While ideological and industry opponents of the CFPB may claim vindication, nothing in the decision undermines the legitimacy and credibility of the CFPB’s important work on behalf of consumers.