A Supreme Court Victory Won’t End a War on Regulators

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau won a reprieve in the Supreme Court on Thursday, but other legal challenges loom.Credit…Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Regulatory wars

The Supreme Court lifted the existential threat hanging over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, rejecting a challenge to the agency’s funding.

The decision could have huge consequences for a raft of conservative-led lawsuits involving administrative authority — but business groups and Republicans are vowing to fight on.

A recap: Payday lenders had sued the C.F.P.B. over a rule that would limit the number of times they could withdraw money from a customer’s account for repayment.

The companies and conservative groups argued that the practice wasn’t harmful, and said the way the regulator is funded — via annual allocations from the Fed’s profits rather than from Congress — was unconstitutional.

The stakes were high for an agency created after the 2008 financial crisis. If the C.F.P.B. lost, its past enforcement actions could have been under threat. More widely, other similarly funded federal regulators and agencies — including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation — would face similar questions.

Democrats cheered the decision. Senator Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat who helped create the agency, took to the steps of the Supreme Court to marvel that Justice Clarence Thomas, the conservative who wrote the decision, saved it. Will wonders ever cease?” she asked.

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