U.S. PIRG Education Fund files amicus brief in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau case before Supreme Court

Media Contacts
Ed Mierzwinski

Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program, U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Court to decide to what extent Congress can limit the president’s ability to fire agency heads

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON — Ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court oral argument scheduled for March 3, 2020, U.S. PIRG Education Fund and several other consumer advocacy groups filed an amicus brief today in Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The brief argues that long-established principles and Supreme Court precedent support the constitutionality of the CFPB’s leadership structure. The brief also highlights that Congress purposefully created an independent bureau focused on consumer financial protection to avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis.

“The CFPB was created after the Great Recession to protect Americans from unscrupulous businesses that have too much power to wreak havoc on the public,” said Ed Mierzwinski, U.S. PIRG Education Fund’s senior director of federal consumer programs, who helped create the Bureau. “Now, the CFPB’s director is actively working with the Trump administration and a debt collection law firm, of all things, to undermine the Bureau. We know from how things played out before the CFPB opened its doors that Americans can’t afford to let that happen.”

The Supreme Court will decide whether the separation-of-powers principle embedded in the Constitution prohibits Congress from creating an agency that is headed by a single director who is removable by the president only “for cause.” Kathy Kraninger, who was appointed to head the CFPB by President Trump in 2018, has decided to no longer defend the constitutionality of the bureau’s structure.

“The legal question in this case is whether the CFPB’s structure prohibits the president from carrying out his constitutional duties. Decades-old Supreme Court precedent tells us that the answer is ‘no,’” said Mike Landis, litigation director for U.S. PIRG Education Fund. “Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress cannot innovate when structuring agencies.”

The Supreme Court will likely issue its opinion in this case close to the end of this term, in June 2020.