No decision by Supreme Court on CFPB's constitutionality
The Supreme Court did not issue an opinion Thursday on a case challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's leadership structure, meaning that the highly anticipated ruling won't come until next week at the earliest.
The high court releases opinions only on Mondays and Thursdays while it is in session. The court has 13 cases left on its docket before it adjourns for the summer.
The case, Seila Law LLC v. CFPB, is challenging the CFPB's single-director structure. The plaintiffs argue that Congress violated the Constitution's separation of powers by creating an independent federal agency whose single director may not be removed by the president unless for cause. That protection is generally understood to mean that a president may not remove someone except in cases of “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.”
A ruling in the case could have implications not only for the CFPB, but for other independent regulators as well, including the Federal Reserve and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
Some observers anticipated that the court would go to great lengths to avoid a ruling that would have implications beyond the CFPB. Republicans have long wanted a case to reach the high court to knock down the single-director leadership framework.
In agreeing to take the case in October, the court asked the parties to address whether a provision in the Dodd-Frank Act that allows a president to oust the CFPB director only for cause is unconstitutional. The court also asked for arguments about whether the CFPB's leadership structure calls into question the constitutionality of the entire agency, or whether the for-cause provision is separate from the rest of Dodd-Frank.
Last year the Department of Justice and the CFPB’s own director, Kathy Kraninger, filed briefs arguing that the president should have more flexibility to be able to fire a sitting CFPB director.