Regulatory Enforcement + Compliance

As discussed here, yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited (CFSA) v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) holding that the CFPB’s special funding structure does not violate the appropriations clause of the Constitution. Wasting no time, today the CFPB filed notices of the CFSA decision in cases nationwide, including in the case where several trade associations are challenging the CFPB’s final rule under § 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act (Final Rule), Texas Bankers Association, et al. v. CFPB.

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited (CFSA) v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) holding that the CFPB’s special funding structure does not violate the appropriations clause of the Constitution. The 7-2 majority held the Dodd-Frank Act, which provides the CFPB’s funding structure, satisfies the appropriations clause because it “authorizes the Bureau to draw public funds from a particular source — ‘the combined earnings of the Federal Reserve System’ — in an amount not exceeding an inflation-adjusted cap. And it specifies the objects for which the Bureau can use those funds — to ‘pay the expenses of the Bureau in carrying out its duties and responsibilities.’” The Supreme Court further found that the “Bureau’s funding mechanism [] fits comfortably within the historical appropriations practice …” Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented from the decision.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Smith v. Spizzirri holding that § 3 of the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires district courts to issue an order staying a federal case pending the outcome of arbitration, rather than dismiss the case when a motion to compel arbitration is granted. This decision resolves a circuit split where previously the Second, Third, Sixth, Seventh, Tenth, and Eleventh Circuits had held that the plain text of § 3 mandates a stay of the proceedings whereas the First, Fifth, Eighth, and Ninth Circuits had held that district courts have the discretion to dismiss the proceedings if the entire dispute was subject to arbitration.

On May 2, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released two sets of guidance addressing the applicability of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) to two areas where, in the agency’s view, algorithmic processes and artificial intelligence (AI) pose particular concerns: tenant screening and advertising of housing opportunities through online platforms that use targeted ads. The purpose of HUD’s guidance is to make housing providers, tenant screening companies, advertisers, and online platforms aware that the FHA applies to tenant screening and housing advertising, including when algorithms and AI are used to perform those functions.

On May 10, a Texas federal court granted a preliminary injunction enjoining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) from implementing the credit card late fee rule, most recently discussed here. The court found the plaintiffs demonstrated a likelihood of success based on their reliance on the Fifth Circuit’s decision in CFPB v. Community Financial Services Association of America, Ltd. finding that the CFPB’s “double-insulated funding scheme is unconstitutional.” The court further found that the balance of interest test weighed in the plaintiffs’ favor because if the court denied the injunction, “[p]laintiffs face an enormous undertaking based upon a potentially unconstitutional rule,” whereas if the court granted the injunction “the CFPB is relatively unaffected because the Final Rule has not yet gone into effect.”

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) published an Issue Spotlight focusing on consumer complaints relating to credit card rewards programs. The report notes that credit card companies often focus marketing efforts on rewards, like cash back and travel, instead of on interest rates and fees. However, the CFPB has previously reported that consumers who carry debt from month to month earn just 27% of rewards at major credit card companies, while paying 94% of the interest and fees that those companies charged. In its analysis of several hundred complaints relating to these rewards programs, the Bureau identified four recurring themes: 1) vague or hidden promotional conditions; 2) devalued rewards; 3) customer service issues that delay or block reward redemption; and 4) issuers unilaterally revoking reward balances.

On May 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit entered an order denying the CFPB’s (CFPB) petition for a panel rehearing and effectively setting the stage for a long-awaited ruling on a preliminary injunction in the ongoing lawsuit challenging the CFPB credit card late fee rule. The petition was filed by the CFPB to reconsider the panel’s order vacating the district court’s order that transferred the case to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and issuing a writ of mandamus directing the district court to reopen the case.

On May 2, JAMS announced its new Mass Arbitration Procedures and Guidelines and Mass Arbitration Procedures Fee Schedule (together, the Procedures), with the express goal to “facilitate the fair, expeditious and efficient resolution of Mass Arbitrations” and implicit intent to reduce the administrative burden and onerous fees of mass arbitrations, as well as the delay and potential unfairness to the parties. While effective immediately, the Procedures only apply if the parties have agreed to their application in a pre- or post-dispute written agreement. This limitation significantly decreases the effectiveness of the Procedures as a tool for hedging risks and limiting the high costs of mass arbitration.

As discussed here, in March 2023, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) proposed new regulations under the California Financing Law that would interpret the definition of “loan” to include “income-based advances” or earned wage access (EWA) products, except those offered by employers. The proposal also sought to require providers of such products to register with the state, and imposed requirements on debt settlement companies and education financing providers.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently released an Issue Spotlight highlighting the costs and fees associated with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs). While acknowledging that HSAs offer tax advantages that can help offset the costs of high deductible health plans (HDHPs), the CFPB’s report noted that these benefits can be significantly offset by various costs.