Supreme Court: CFPB funding doesn't violate Constitution

U.S. Court News

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a conservative-led attack that could have undermined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The justices ruled 7-2 that the way the CFPB is funded does not violate the Constitution, reversing a lower court and drawing praises from consumers. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, splitting with his frequent allies, Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, who dissented.

The CFPB was created after the 2008 financial crisis to regulate mortgages, car loans and other consumer finance. The case was brought by payday lenders who object to a bureau rule that limits their ability to withdraw funds directly from borrowers’ bank accounts. It’s among several major challenges to federal regulatory agencies on the docket this term for a court that has for more than a decade been open to limits on their operations.

The CFPB, the brainchild of Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, has long been opposed by Republicans and their financial backers. The bureau says it has returned $19 billion to consumers since its creation.

Outside the Supreme Court following the decision, Warren said, “The Supreme Court followed the law, and the CFPB is here to stay.”

President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat who has taken steps to strengthen the bureau, called the ruling “an unmistakable win for American consumers.”

Unlike most federal agencies, the consumer bureau does not rely on the annual budget process in Congress. Instead, it is funded directly by the Federal Reserve, with a current annual limit of around $600 million.

The federal appeals court in New Orleans, in a novel ruling, held that the funding violated the Constitution’s appropriations clause because it improperly shields the CFPB from congressional supervision.

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