U.S. Supreme Court hears oral argument in case about presidential control of independent agencies

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On December 9, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Collins v. Mnuchin, a case about the extent of the president’s appointment and removal powers and control of independent federal agencies. The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether restrictions Congress placed on the ability of the president to remove the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) amount to an unconstitutional violation of separation of powers principles.

Opponents of the structure of the FHFA argue that Congress interfered with the power of the executive branch to control the agency when it gave the director removal protections.

Supporters of the structure of the FHFA argue that the U.S. Constitution, in their view, allows Congress to insulate some agencies from direct presidential control.

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a similar case, Seila Law v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, ruling 5-4 that the removal protections given to the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau were unconstitutional.

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