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HOPE Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Independence of Consumer Bureau

January 24th, 2020

Hope Credit Union / Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE) joined other community development credit unions and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to submit an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court defending the constitutionality and political independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Joining HOPE on the brief are Inclusiv, National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB), and Self-Help Credit Union.

The brief underscores the importance of the CFPB’s ability to fulfill its mission independent from the political preferences of any one administration or the political pressure of large financial institutions. Such independence is necessary to ensure a level regulatory playing field and to reduce the cost burdens of regulations that might change each election cycle. These are both critical for mission-based financial institutions, such as HOPE, to ensure a fair financial marketplace in which to operate. It is also critical for the communities we serve – to ensure the CFPB can act as it was intended, with the interest of consumers in mind rather than the political interest of elected officials or financial institutions.

The case at hand is Seila Law LLC vs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Seila Law, a debt collection law firm, is arguing that the CFPB’s structure in an unconstitutional violation of the separation of powers. Specifically, Seila Law challenges the fact that the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provides that the CFPB Director can only be removed by the President “for cause” rather than simply at the President’s will. The brief submitted by HOPE and our community development partners makes the case that the “for cause” provision is both constitutional and key to the CFPB’s independence and effectiveness, especially when balanced with other provisions that ensure public accountability.

Unfortunately, the CFPB itself and various financial institution trade associations have joined Seila Law in arguing against the CFPB’s constitutionality. As such, we feel it particularly important to ensure mission based financial institutions, such as HOPE, are a voice advocating for a fair regulatory environment that best allows HOPE to carry out its mission while also protecting the communities we serve from unfair practices.

The Center for Responsible Lending and Cohen Milstein law firm represented HOPE and the other amici in the submission of the brief to the Court. This brief is HOPE’s second amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court. Our first was in 2015, when we joined others, in defense of the use of disparate impact to enforce the federal Fair Housing Act.

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