January 4, 2017

Supreme Court Weighs Petition To Rein In Obama’s Most Powerful Agency

The Supreme Court is weighing a petition which could significantly curtail the authority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the most powerful agency established under President Barack Obama.
A petition filed before the end of the year asks the justices to strike down a wide range of actions taken by CFPB before its director was officially installed. Federal law requires all agency actions be approved and carried out by an agency’s executive officer, the individual to whom Congress makes an explicit grant of power.
The case was occasioned when CFPB levied a number of fines and penalties against Chance Gordon, a California lawyer accused of violating several provisions in the Consumer Financial Protection Act. The agency ultimately assessed an $11 million fine against Gordon and his law practice for charging fees for legal services he allegedly did not provide.
Gordon’s penalties were initiated when CFPB did not have a director, and was not empowered to take such punitive steps. When the current director of CFPB, Richard Cordray, assumed office, he issued an order retroactively sanctioning a number of actions taken by the agency before his confirmation, including the penalties assessed against Gordon.
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