D.C. Court of Appeals Hears Oral Argument in CFPB Deputy Director's Case

Three-judge panel debates legality of interim leadership at the bureau and Leandra English’s request for a temporary injunction.

4/13/2018 12:00 PM

D.C. Court of Appeals Hears Oral Argument in CFPB Deputy Director's Case

Debate at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in a case challenging the appointment process used to name an acting director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau continued during oral arguments April 12.

The CFPB’s Deputy Director Leandra English and her attorney Deepak Gupta filed suit challenging the law governing who has the authority to appoint an interim director at the bureau—the president or the outgoing director. The saga started shortly after former Director Richard Cordray resigned from the CFPB in November 2017 and promoted English from chief of staff to deputy director under the Dodd-Frank Act, ACA International previously reported.

Not long after, President Donald Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to serve as the CFPB’s acting director while continuing in his role with the OMB. 

The Trump administration argues that its authority to appoint an interim director of the CFPB lies in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.

During the April 12 hearing, according to a report from Consumer Affairs, justices on the three-judge panel asked Gupta about English’s standing to bring the suit.

“She is seeking to establish her entitlement to a position she believes she lawfully holds,” Gupta said, according to the article. “That is the legal question here.”

English filed an appeal in the case after the district court denied her motion for a preliminary injunction earlier this year.

English's request for a temporary injunction, which was at the center of the most recent oral argument before the court, would make English the acting director of the CFPB if approved.

“The injunction would prevent Mr. Mulvaney from holding himself out as the director of the CFPB and occupying that position," Gupta told the court. “And it would restore Ms. English to what she believes is the status quo,” according to Consumer Affairs.

The justices’ debate during oral argument focused on the law that dictates interim leadership at the bureau, the Federal Vacancies Act or the Dodd-Frank Act, and whether the dual role of Mulvaney between the CFPB and the OMB, conflicts with his interim post, according to media reports.

Mulvaney’s tenure as acting director will last until June 22 unless President Trump nominates a permanent director before that date. If there is a nominee, Mulvaney will remain in his role until the Senate confirmation is complete.

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