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Supreme Court to Address FHFA’s Constitutionality, Autodialers

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday announced it will hear appeals in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Housing Finance Agency's single-director structure.

"The Seila Law decision does not directly affect the constitutionality of FHFA, including the for-cause removal provision. FHFA looks forward to the U.S. Supreme Court taking up the Collins case and clarifying these important issues," the FHFA said in a statement.

Last week the high court ruled that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was unconstitutional due to its single-director structure.

“The CFPB’s single-director configuration is also incompatible with the structure of the Constitution, which—with the sole exception of the Presidency—scrupulously avoids concentrating power in the hands of any single individual,” the ruling states.

Additionally, the court said its director “must be removable by the President at will.”

In response, the CFPB named Thomas Pahl as Deputy Director of the Bureau.

The high court also announced it was joining the debate on what qualifies as an autodialer under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), according to Law360.

This comes after Facebook challenged the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling that broadly defined the term.

Nine months after Facebook asked the justices to review a lawsuit, the Supreme Court said in its order of the term that it would weigh Facebook’s request to clear up the growing circuit split over what types of dialing equipment trigger liability under the statute.

This decision comes days after the Supreme Court announced Monday that it has invalidated a 2015 amendment from the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and ruled Congress “impermissibly favored” debt-collection speech over political speech—violating the First Amenent.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that while Americans disagree about many things, they are “largely united in their disdain for robocalls.”

Justice Kavanaugh added that the Federal Government received 3.7 million complaints regarding robocalls in 2019.

The TCPA was initially passed in 1991, which prohibited robocalls to cell phones and home phones. However, a 2015 amendment to the TCPA allowed robocalls that are made to collect debts owed to or guaranteed by the federal government, such as mortgage debts.

Justice Kavanaugh added that while the entire 1991 restriction should not be invalidated, the 2015 government-debt exception must be “severed from the remainder of the statute.”

Robocalls based on political speech are still not allowed, but they are treated equally with debt-collection speech.

The 2015 amendment was passed under President Barack Obama’s Bipartisan Budget Act.

In 2018, the National Mortgage Servicing Association (NMSA) sent a letter to the FCC requesting clarifications and guidance regarding the implementation of regulations imposed by the TCPA.

In March 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a ruling in the case of ACA International v. FCC, clarifying several issues with regard to consumer and industry rights pertaining to robocalls and texts sent to consumers. While industry groups hailed this as a step in the right direction, there are still many questions that need answering with regard to how TCPA regs apply to servicers and the financial services industry.

About Author: Mike Albanese

Mike Albanese is a reporter for DS News and MReport. He is a University of Alabama graduate with a degree in journalism and a minor in communications. He has worked for publications—both print and online—covering numerous beats. A Connecticut native, Albanese currently resides in Lewisville.
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