SCOTUS Recognizes Congress’ Powers to Govern

The Supreme Court has decided Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Community Financial Services Assn. of America, Ltd., recognizing Congress has constitutional prerogatives to govern and structure the federal government as it sees fit. The case will no doubt mostly be discussed as an obscure case that put an end to the long conservative attack on the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Board. But it should also be acknowledged as a pro-democracy case–and those are few and far between these days. This Court is arrogant in its assertion of judicial supremacy, and when it comes to Congress, it routinely minimizes that branch’s constitutional powers. This impacts democracy because as Congress lays mired in gridlock, the administrative state is the main place governance is occurring. This decision upholds Congress’s power to financially insulate administrative agencies from Congress’s dysfunction. To be sure, it is doctrinally limited and will not put a stop to other developments likely to undercut congressional flexibility to structure agencies. Nevertheless, it should be recognized as an important separation of powers decision that appears to acknowledge Congress as a co-equal branch of government.

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