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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court said the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, but that the agency can keep operating under new rules.

Why it matters: The court’s ruling will make it easier for future presidents to fire the leader of the powerful watchdog agency, making it more subject to political vicissitudes.

Details: The CFPB was conceived by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), before her days in elected office, and created by Congress in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

  • Congress created a somewhat unusual leadership structure for the bureau: a single director, rather than a board, who serves a fixed five-year term and can only be fired by the president for "inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office."
  • Critics said that gave the director too much power, arguing that he or she should be fireable for any reason, like Cabinet officials and other senior political appointees.

The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that presidents must be able to fire CFPB directors at will.

Between the lines: The unusual leadership structure was designed to prevent the gridlock that a board of directors could produce, while also providing some continuity from one administration to the next.

  • Today’s ruling will undermine those goals, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not that terrible a blow to the agency.
  • The court had the opportunity to strike down the entire CFPB, but it did not go that far. The CFPB will now function more similarly to other parts of the executive branch.

Read the ruling.

Editor's note: This story was corrected to remove an erroneous reference to the CFPB's current leadership. CFPB director Kathy Kraninger was confirmed by the Senate in 2018.

Go deeper

Pennsylvania GOP asks Supreme Court to halt mail-in ballot extension

Applications for mail-in ballots in Reading, Pennsylvania. Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Republicans in Pennsylvania on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt a major state court ruling that extended the deadlines for mail-in ballots to several days after the election, The Morning Call reports.

Why it matters: It's the first election-related test for the Supreme Court since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and could decide the fate of thousands of ballots in a crucial swing state that President Trump won in 2016. What the court decides could signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states.

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.