WASHINGTON, D.C., October 3, 2023 – On its second day of the new term, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) v. Community Financial Services Association of America (CFSA). This case seeks to challenge the CFPB and the many protections it offers for consumers under the argument that its independent funding system is unconstitutional because it is not a direct congressional appropriation. This is despite the fact that many funding programs, like Social Security, are also funded in unique ways.
Many of the justices, both conservative and liberal, appeared skeptical of this extreme interpretation of Congress’s funding power. Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett did not see a viable way to upend the CFPB’s funding structure, suggesting there is some optimism that the Court does not have the votes to completely gut the office or similar congressional funding schemes.
Jake Faleschini, Justice Program Director at Alliance for Justice, issued the following statement:
“It’s reassuring to start off the Supreme Court term with oral arguments that appear to be at least somewhat reasonable. It’s absurd to claim that Congress has given the executive branch too much power through the CFPB given it could cut funding for the CFPB tomorrow if it wanted to, as Justice Kavanaugh noted. It’s nevertheless troubling that some conservative justices were seeking a historic justification, again signaling their belief that our government can simply never be innovative as the times dictate.
“The CFPB is doing important work to protect consumers and was specifically designed with a funding structure that would shield it from political influence. It’s no coincidence that the groups challenging the CFPB’s structure are the ones who would benefit the most from gutting its ability to protect consumers. Hopefully we will see at least five votes to uphold Congress’s right to fund agencies in different ways, thereby protecting other important institutions like the Federal Reserve and Social Security.”