DC Circuit - The FindLaw DC Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

October 2016 Archives

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established in the wake of the 2007 financial meltdown that gave birth to the "Great Recession." Created by the 2010's Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB was to operate as a Wall Street watchdog agency. To ensure its independence from political interference, it was to have a single director who, once appointed, could only be removed for cause.

That level of independence, however, was too much for the D.C. Circuit. A three judge panel ruled earlier this month that the CFPB's structure gave too much authority to its director, in violation of the executive powers given to the President. An independent director who could not be fired without cause, the court found, was a "threat to individual liberty."

In 2015, years of intense grass roots opposition succeeded in shutting down the Key Stone XL Pipeline, a massive pipeline that would run from the intensely polluting Alberta tar sands to the Gulf Coast. Since then, pipeline fights have remained at the forefront of environmental fights. One of the most recent battles is over the Dakota Access pipeline, a $3.8 billion project that would transfer crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to Illinois, and through the sacred lands of many Native American groups.

Now, the Standing Rock Sioux are suing. The tribe turned to the D.C. Circuit yesterday, asking it to impose a temporary injunction on further pipeline work while the tribe litigates whether the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers properly consulted with it before approving the project.