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Would Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch Abolish CFPB?

If Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed as a justice for the Supreme Court, taking the vacant seat left by the late Antonin Scalia, there are questions about how he might rule on important issues. Some people have expressed their beliefs that this will be good news for American business, but bad news for independent administrative agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

In a recent interview with John Harwood on CNBC, Richard Cordray, the current CFPB Director was interviewed and asked about his reaction to the fact that the President and congressional Republicans are exploring ways to either fire him or curb his power. Some would even like to abolish the Dodd-Frank bill that created the CFPB.

A question on the minds of many people is what would be the effect of having Gorsuch serve on the Supreme Court in relation to the life or death of the CFPB?  It has been said that he is one of a small group of judges beginning to question the constitutionality of the power of and the deference to unelected bureaucrats.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote a decision last year declaring the structure of the CFPB unconstitutional, a decision leading to an ongoing court battle involving several attorneys general and Democratic lawmakers coming to the defense of the CFPB.

During the recent interview on CNBC, Cordray said he feels that the CFPB is a needed agency in that “We're standing up for consumers against large financial companies. That's our job.”

Then he was asked if he perceives that what he is doing at the CFPB is consistent with the message of President Trump and the desires of his voters.

Cordray replied, “I think it's consistent with what most Americans want. What do people do when they're suddenly being harassed by a debt collector, called at all hours of the day and night? …. To have somebody who will stand on their side who will try to do something about it. I think people want that.”

Then Cordray was asked if he thought his job was worth fighting for. He replied, “I think the independence of a consumer watchdog is very much worth fighting for. It's really important work.”

But what might a Justice Gorsuch think about that, or how would he rule if the agency is challenged?  Reports from the Wall Street Journal show Gorsuch opposing class action lawsuits over alleged violations of securities law, which he referred to as “opportunistic shakedowns” by lawyers. Many people feel that he would rule against the CFPB.

There is a relationship between Gorsuch and Cordray in that they both clerked for the same two Supreme Court Justices, Justice White and Justice Kennedy.  Cordray was asked about his observations of Neil Gorsuch. “Tell me how much you've been around him, your observations about what kind of guy he is,” asked Harwood.

Cordray said, “The common element for us is we both had two great mentors when we were younger in life. Justice White and Justice Kennedy taught me a lot of lessons that I think I carry into my approach to enforcing the law and respecting the law to this day. And I'm sure that Judge Gorsuch does as well.”

“And what impressions have you drawn of him?” asked Harwood. “I think he is a conscientious, very, very capable judge, and I don't mean to get in the middle of any of those deliberations which are for the Senate,” Cordray said.

Then Harwood asked, “Anything that makes you think he shouldn't be on the Supreme Court?”  To which Cordray answered, “I'm not in a position to judge that. I knew him as a lawyer before he was a judge. I think he is a conscientious and very capable judge.”

Note: CFBP Director Richard Cordray will be the keynote speaker for the Five Star Government Forum: http://fsgf.thefivestar.com/.

About Author: Sandra Lane

Sandra Lane has extensive experience covering the default servicing industry. She contributed regularly to DS News' predecessor, REO Magazine, from 2004 to 2006, covering local market trends, the effects of macroeconomic shifts on market conditions, and "big-picture" analyses of industry-driving indicators. But her understanding of the mortgage and real estate business extends even beyond those pre-crisis days. She is a former real estate broker and grew up in what she calls "a real estate family." A journalism graduate of the University of North Texas, she has written articles for various newspapers and trade journals, as well as company communications for several major corporations.
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