Last week in Washington, protesters harassed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh at a DC restaurant, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and establishment media applauding the harassment. According to one leftist, the DC restaurant “should be ashamed for welcoming a man who so clearly hates women,” an echo of Kavanaugh’s confirmation ordeal staring Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who had one beer.
After the leak of the impending abortion decision, leftists began harassing Kavanaugh outside of his home, a move encouraged by the Biden administration, despite a federal law forbidding protests near a court or “residence” occupied by a judge.
Attorney General Merrick Garland has refused to enforce the statute and at this writing has failed to bring any charges against the protesters, even after an alleged assassination attempt against Justice Kavanaugh. As this suggests, there’s more going on here than the Trump nominee’s views on women.
Lurking in the background, unnoticed by the media, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), first envisioned by Sen. Elizabeth Warren. In 2011, President Obama tasked Warren to oversee the project, doubtless part of his fundamental transformation of America. With 1600 employees, the new federal agency was based on the premise that Americans were unable to look out for themselves without help from the federal government.
The CFPB is funded by the Federal Reserve, not Congress. The director gets a five-year term of office, protected from removal by the president except for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance. According to appeal court judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2016, “the concentration of massive, unchecked power in a single director marks a dramatic departure from settled historical practice and makes the CFPB unique among independent agencies.”
According to Kavanaugh, the CFBP boss “is the single most powerful official in the entire United States Government, and “that is not an overstatement.” In effect, the CFPB director was the “President of Consumer Finance.”
This powerful agency is being challenged in Consumer Financial Protection Board v. All America Check Cashing, now in the Fifth Circuit. Consider the opinion of Judge Edith H. Jones, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan.
“A critical issue yet undecided in this appeal is whether the historically unique structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau violates the Constitution because its funding is doubly removed from congressional review.” Jones contends that “the CFPB’s funding structure violates the separation of powers principle enshrined in the Appropriations Clause,” but there’s more to it.
The CFPB was “expressly designed to answer to neither of the politically accountable branches,” Jones explains. “Unlike other agencies, Congress put the CFPB’s staggering amalgam of legislative, judicial and executive power in the hands of a single Director serving a five-year term and removable by the President only for cause; and Congress insulated the agency from the ordinary congressional appropriations process.”
As the judge discovered, the CFPB can conduct investigations, issue subpoenas and “seek a dizzying array of penalties” including “civil penalties of up to $1,190, 546 per day.” If that doesn’t deserve review by the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) it’s hard to imagine what might. And as Adam Mill notes at American Greatness, the CFPB is hardly the only “ghost funded” federal agency.
The federal Department of Justice uses “assets forfeited by suspected criminals to pay its own expenses and pay bounties to local law enforcement. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) “confiscates billions in forfeited funds without every charging owners with a crime.”
As it happens, the DEA is part of the Department of Justice. That may help explain the reluctance of DOJ boss Garland to enforce the law barring protests outside Kavanaugh’s residence. As with the CFPB, it’s a case of “follow the money.”
In defense of the CFPB, Elizabeth Warren has called Kavanaugh a “political animal” and noted that the Comptroller of the Currency shares a similar leadership structure. For the key Comptroller post, Warren backed Biden pick Saule Omarova, a Lenin scholar and Soviet apologist who wrote a thesis on Marx. Omarova’s plan, emphasizing government control, would have essentially replicated Soviet banking.
For Warren, “giant banks that want to keep gobbling up smaller competitors, want to keep ripping off their customers, and want to keep getting away with it.” That is the same rationale for the CFPB, a centerpiece of Warren’s campaign for president.
As Judge Edith Jones explains, the CFPB was expressly created to avoid accountability. By contrast, in a system of self-government, Adam Mill recalls, elected members of government must control the levers of power, especially the money that funds operations.
Ghost funding, on the other hand, “severs the link between the ballot box and the terrifying power of the federal government.” A SCOTUS decision striking down ghost-funded federal agencies would be “almost impossible to overstate.” Justice Kavanaugh seems inclined to strike.
Brett Kavanaugh stood up to a vicious smear campaign, so hatemongering protests and even assassination attempts are unlikely to sway him. Next term, as Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens.