Of the many federal agencies that Republicans oppose on principle, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has the distinction of being one of the few they were complaining about before it even existed.
In the years since, conservatives have taken every imaginable angle on demeaning, defanging, or abolishing the CFPB, which Congress created as a direct response to the 2008 financial crisis. Railing against its unconscionable infringements on personal liberty and consumer choice became a staple of Republican stump speeches overnight. In 2015, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz introduced a bill to repeal the bureau, a stunt he’s repeated several times since. In a harebrained bid to hollow out an agency his party could not eliminate, President Donald Trump installed Mick Mulvaney, who as a congressman smeared the bureau as “sick,” “sad,” and a “joke,” as its chief in 2017. Per the New York Times, Mulvaney showed up for work “no more than two or three days a week, a few hours at a time.”
Republicans came closest to dismantling the bureau in 2020, when a much-hyped legal challenge to the bureau’s leadership structure, which limited the president’s ability to fire the director, made it all the way to the Supreme Court. But in a surprise ruling in Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Chief Justice John Roberts gave the bureau a reprieve, loosening the restrictions on the president’s removal power but otherwise allowing the bureau to continue its work. Conservatives who had hoped to celebrate the public death of Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild were crushed: “By ratifying most of the bureau’s unconstitutional design, the ruling will encourage Congress to create more agencies that violate the separation of powers,” the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote.
It is not a surprise, then, that anti-CFPB activists have wriggled their way back to the court, which is now even more conservative than it was three years ago. On Tuesday, the justices heard oral argument in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Association of America, a case about a different purported constitutional fatal flaw in the bureau’s design: this time, the manner in which Congress funds its operations. Of course, the object this time is the same: Republican Party politicians have been fighting the very existence of this bureau for 13 years and counting. CFSA gives the Republican Party’s Supreme Court justices their latest, best chance to win that war.
Read the rest at Slate here.