The CFPB Leadership Fight and Silver Linings

Update:

And the Judge ruled in favor of Mulvaney. None of us are surprised. English will, most likely, appeal the ruling. In the meantime, Texas has filed a motion requesting leave to filing a Friend of the Court.

These red state AGs have very little else to do.

First Update:

The judge has asked all parties to appear in court today at 4PM Eastern regarding the motion for a temporary restraining order. We’ll most likely get resolution on the two leader issue at that time.

Earlier:

I have updates on the lawsuit over the temporary leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Last night, a deputy Attorney General filed a legal motion opposing Leandra English’s request for a temporary restraining order. They did so quickly at the urging of the judge, newly installed, Trump-appointed Timothy Kelly.

The Judge is likely to rule today on the motion for the restraining order. Sadly, I don’t hold out a lot of hope that English will prevail.

OK, we’re disappointed. Now, let’s look at the silver lining.

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The Fight over the CFPB

The Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) resigned last week. Before he left, he appointed Leandra English as Deputy Director, recognizing “that appointing the current chief of staff to the deputy director position would minimize operational disruption and provide for a smooth transition given her operational expertise.”

Later that day, Trump appointed the White House budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting head of the CFPB until he could appoint a permanent director with Senate approval. Last night, English filed a lawsuit challenging the appointment, following up this morning with a request for a restraining order to prevent Mulvaney from stepping into the position.

Dueling legal arguments have been flying on Twitter and in the media about the transition. The White House claims the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) applies to the appointment of an acting CFPB Director. This act enables the President to make the appointment.

English and those who support her state that it is the Dodd-Frank law that created the CFPB that has precedence in the appointment. A section of the law states that the deputy Directory shall “serve as acting Director in the absence or unavailability of the Director.”

When Congressional laws create a conflict, the newer law, and the more specific, takes precedence. The Dodd-Frank is both newer and more specific (related specifically to the CFPB rather than all agencies, generally). The White House argument is that the laws aren’t in conflict, they exist parallel to each other, which means that the deputy Director would be acting director only if the President doesn’t choose another.

I’m not a lawyer, but it only requires a modicum of logic and commonsense to realize that Trump’s hasty appointment of Mulvaney was ill-thought and will ultimately be counter-productive.

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Another excellent court resource: Justia

I was reminded of another valuable resource for accessing court documents: Justia. I’ve used the site many a time, and it’s helped me discover cases related to one entity or another more than once.

You can search for a court case for free at Justia, and once you’ve found the case, you can then directly access the PACER court documents from the returned result. Using Justia you can save on the dime-a-page query forms that PACER provides.

As an example, when I searched on “Front Range Equine Rescue” and New Mexico, I found the listing for the court case I’m currently following related to horse meat plants and USDA inspections that has been on fire with activity today. Yes, I still need to use PACER to access the docket and court cases, but I’ve saved from a dime to a dollar just finding the case.

Hey, every penny counts.

The DC Courts Yank Pruitt’s Leash

The EPA operates under very strict guidelines regarding its decisions related to rules and regulations. The guidelines were in play when the EPA released a rule to cut methane emissions in May 2016. These guidelines also worked to save the rule when Pruitt’s EPA moved to arbitrarily halt its enforcement.

In a 2-1 decision in the DC Court of Appeals today the justices rejected the EPA’s assertion that its decision to ‘stay’ the methane rule for two years was not a final agency action, and therefore not subject to court overview.

The imposition of the stay, however, is an entirely different
matter. By staying the methane rule, EPA has not only concluded that section 307(d)(7)(B) requires reconsideration, but it has also suspended the rule’s compliance deadlines. EPA’s stay, in other words, is essentially an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule. As we explained in a very similar situation, where an agency granted an application for interim relief from a safety standard while it reconsidered that standard: “In effect, the Administrator has granted a modification of the mandatory safety standard for the entire period of time that the petition is pending. There is no indication that the Secretary intends to reconsider this decision or to vacate the grant of interim relief. Thus, the Secretary’s decision represents the final agency position on this issue, has the status of law, and has an immediate and direct effect on the parties. Therefore, we have no difficulty concluding that the Secretary has issued a final decision . . .

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Several groups sue on reversal of Arctic Drilling ban

On May 3rd, several groups including Earth Justice, Center for Biological Diversity, Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and others joined with Alaska Native groups to sue the Trump administration for its reversal of the Arctic drilling ban.

The complaint states there is no Constitutional authority for Trump to reverse a Section 12(a) withdrawal, the authority President Obama used to ban Arctic drilling. In the complaint, the claim for relief states:

In reversing President Obama’s Arctic and Atlantic Ocean withdrawals, President Trump acted in excess of his authority under Article II of the U.S. Constitution and intruded on Congress’s non-delegated exclusive power under the Property Clause, in violation of the doctrine of separation of powers.

The lawsuit is in preliminary stages, and so far, no group has asked to intervene on behalf of the government, though I expect this to change.