Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) – the first case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court.
The CFPB was established in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to bring greater consumer protection to the financial industry. It administers and enforces consumer financial protection laws and regulations, including in areas like credit cards and mortgages.
However, the CFPB has a unique structure, as it is headed by a single director who can only be removed for “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.” This structure has been called into question by the case before the Supreme Court, which focuses on whether this single-director setup is unconstitutional.
Today’s hearing started with the Justice’s questioning counsel, and the majority of the court seemed to be skeptical of the challenge to the CFPB. Chief Justice Roberts criticized the challengers’ argument that the single-director structure is unconstitutional, while Justice Alito said that the challengers’ arguments were “distracted” by a desire to eliminate the CFPB altogether.
Other Justices, however, including Barrett, appeared to be more sympathetic to the challenge. Barrett, for example, asked how the CFPB’s structure could be “sustained” under the Constitution given the implications for democracy.
The Supreme Court’s decision in this case is expected to have profound implications for consumer protection in the US and the role of the CFPB. The outcome of the case is uncertain, but the majority of the justices today seemed to be skeptical of the challenge.
Regardless of the outcome, this case serves as a reminder of the importance of consumer protection in a time when the role of government in regulating our financial industry is in the spotlight. It’s clear from today’s hearing that the Supreme Court takes this issue seriously, and their decision will be watched closely by all those interested in the future of our financial system.