BREAKING: Supreme Court strikes down consumer agency’s autonomy in win for Trump admin

Per CBS News, the Supreme Court ruled Monday the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a consumer watchdog that was the brainchild of Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, is
unconstitutional, but stopped short of dismantling the agency.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “the structure of the CFPB violates the separation of powers.”

“The agency may therefore continue to operate, but its director, in light of our decision, must be removable by the president at will,” Roberts wrote for the 5-4 court.

Warren tweeted in response to the ruling:

After years of industry attacks and GOP opposition, a conservative Supreme Court recognized what we all knew: The @CFPB itself and the law that created it is constitutional. The CFPB is here to stay.

The @CFPB continues to be an independent agency. Their job is to get the tricks and traps out of credit cards, mortgages, student loans, and other financial products, and to hold big banks accountable when they cheat people. Nothing in the Supreme Court ruling changes that.

USAToday reports the Supreme Court handed the Trump administration a big win Monday in its effort to tame the independent consumer agency created in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

The justices ruled 5-4 that Congress impinged too much on presidential authority by requiring that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s director can be removed only because of inefficiency, neglect or malfeasance.

Chief Justice John Roberts authored the opinion and was joined by the court’s other four conservative justices. The four liberal justices dissented.

The CFPB “lacks a foundation in historical practice and clashes with constitutional structure by concentrating power in a unilateral actor insulated from presidential control,” Roberts wrote.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan and the court’s three other liberal justices dissented. Kagan said the court should not interfere in decisions made by Congress and President Barack Obama to address financial practices that caused a recession “and could do so again.”

“Today’s decision wipes out a feature of that agency its creators thought fundamental to its mission – a measure of independence from political pressure,” Kagan said.

The case was one of the biggest on the high court’s docket, not only because of the agency’s vast authority but as a major test of the separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government.

These are the most important decisions before the Supreme Court this year.

Conservatives have argued for years that presidents must have the ability to hire and fire top officials at will. During oral argument in March, Solicitor General Noel Francisco said that otherwise, a future president could get saddled with a predecessor’s Cabinet.

Ironically, the ruling could help former Vice President Joe Biden if he wins election in November and wants to replace Trump’s CFPB head with his own.

One of Francisco’s predecessors as the government’s top Supreme Court litigator, Paul Clement, had argued in court that it made sense for Congress to protect some officials from politics. As an example, he said lawmakers might rightfully insulate the head of the Centers for Disease Control from interference, the better to protect Americans during a pandemic.

The case also took on political overtones because the agency, created under Obama, was the brainchild of Elizabeth Warren before she won election to the Senate and became, for a time, a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.