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Supreme Court Puts CFPB Director Under Trump’s Thumb

Statements From Public Citizen Experts

Note: The U.S. Supreme Court today ruled that a statute protecting the director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from being fired without cause by the president is unconstitutional. The court, however, rejected arguments that actions taken by the CFPB must be undone as a result. Instead, the court “severed” the tenure protection provision from other laws governing the agency and declared that it is unenforceable. Thus, the president now has the power to fire the CFPB’s director at will. Public Citizen, together with the Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, the National Association of Consumer Advocates, Tzedek DC and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund filed an amicus brief defending the agency.

“The Supreme Court today acted in disregard of decades of precedent establishing Congress’ power to protect agency officials from being fired without cause by the president. The court has tilted the constitutional balance of power by substantially limiting Congress’s authority to determine when and how to ensure that agency officials are free from undue political pressures. At a time when the president places his own interests above those of the public, officials who seek to carry out their duties with independence and integrity already have targets on their backs. The Supreme Court’s decision enables the president’s reckless assaults on the integrity of our public servants.”

– Scott Nelson, attorney, Public Citizen Litigation Group

“Today’s decision is wrong, but there are two silver linings. First, the court did not fall for the argument that the good work the CFPB has done so far must be undone because of Congress’ unsuccessful effort to protect its director’s independence. Second, and perhaps even more importantly, when we again have a president who cares about consumer protection, he or she can immediately fire any CFPB director who is dedicated to thwarting rather than fulfilling the agency’s mission of consumer protection.”

– Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen