On Wednesday, DC Circuit Court judges will hear arguments over the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The case appears to likely be deciding on party lines and probable to make it all the way to the Supreme Court.
At the same time, the safe money would have to predict that even if the Supreme Court does find CFPB’s structure to be constitutionally flawed, it will most likely let the body itself survive, ordering only that its director shall henceforth be treated as removable at will. That is essentially what the Supreme Court did in the PCAOB case, and what Judge Kavanaugh would have done in the CFPB case. That outcome, should it come to pass, will sorely disappoint critics of the CFPB—and of the similarly structured FHFA. But, alas, this case is more about vindicating abstract principle than about righting concrete wrongs. The latter task will probably be left to case-by-case review before other tribunals.