Corporate Accountability

Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union v. Trump

In Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union v. Trump, the District Court for the Southern District of New York considered who, by law, is now the acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) pending the nomination and Senate confirmation of a new Director: Leandra English, who was named Deputy Director of the Bureau by its prior Director, or Mick Mulvaney, who President Trump seeks to install as acting Director.

Case Summary

On November 24, 2017, Richard Cordray resigned as the CFPB’s director. Prior to resigning, and pursuant to his authority under the statute that established the CFPB, Cordray appointed the Bureau’s Chief of Staff, Leandra English (who has served in a number of leadership roles at the CFPB), as Deputy Director of the Bureau.  That same day, President Donald Trump ordered Mick Mulvaney, currently head of the Office of Management and Budget, to serve as acting Director of the Bureau, purportedly pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA).  The Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union sued Trump and Mulvaney on behalf of itself and its members, claiming that English is rightfully the acting Director and seeking to prevent Mulvaney’s appointment as acting Director.

CAC filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of current and former members of Congress in support of the LES People’s Federal Credit Union. In our brief, we explained that to preserve the Bureau’s independence, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act provides that in the event of a vacancy in the position of Director, the Bureau’s Deputy Director, appointed by the Director, “shall . . . serve as acting Director.”  As we further explained, this mandatory language displaces the default rules established by the FVRA under which the President can temporarily fill executive offices, and that interpretation of the text is supported by the structure and history of Dodd-Frank.  Indeed, the text, structure, and history of Dodd-Frank all make clear that Congress intended to ensure that the Bureau would not be headed—potentially for many months—by an acting Director hand-picked by the President without the check of Senate confirmation, thus depriving the Bureau of the independence that was central to Congress’s plan in establishing it.

The court held that LES People’s Federal Credit Union did not have standing and dismissed the suit without reaching the merits.

Case Timeline

  • December 14, 2017

    CAC files amicus brief on behalf of current and former members of Congress

    S.D.N.Y. Amicus Brief
  • January 12, 2018

    S.D.N.Y. hears oral argument

  • February 1, 2018

    S.D.N.Y. issues decision