Debate Club

Is the Cordray Appointment Constitutional?

Is the Cordray Appointment Constitutional?

On January 4, the White House announced that President Obama would make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to lead the United States Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, or CFPB. The bureau, founded as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act, is primarily responsible for protecting consumers by promoting transparency and fairness relating to credit cards and mortgages, among other things.

The question of who would lead the new bureau was disputed from the start. President Obama passed over Elizabeth Warren, one of the people credited with CFPB's conception, because he feared Republicans would never get behind her. He nominated Richard Cordray for the post in July, but congressional Republicans derailed the appointment with a filibuster in December. 

Cordray has served as the attorney general of Ohio and as its state treasurer. He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, editor-in-chief of the University of Chicago Law Review, and is a five-time Jeopardy! champion. Regarding Cordray, Elizabeth Warren has said, "[He] has the vision and experience to help us build a team that ensures every lender in the marketplace is playing by the rules." 

Proponents of his appointment argue that Republicans are simply trying to make anything President Obama does difficult, and they hold that Obama used a recess appointment as a last resort in an effort to end the drawn-out standoff. Opponents of the recess appointment believe that the president has overstepped his office, using an outdated precedent that was conceived well-before politicians could communicate electronically or fly to Washington in a matter of hours in case of emergencies. They claim that while Congress is not physically in Washington, it is technically still in session. 

Is the Cordray appointment constitutional? Here's the Debate Club's take:


The Arguments

#1
59 Pts
Obama Can't Make Recess Appointments Without a Recess

No – Obama Can't Make Recess Appointments Without a Recess

Phil Kerpen Vice President for Policy at Americans for Prosperity

#2
27 Pts
Obama's Power Grab Sets Precedent Democrats Will Regret

No – Obama's Power Grab Sets Precedent Democrats Will Regret

John Berlau Director of the Center for Investors and Entrepreneurs at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

#3
27 Pts
The President Abused His Power

No – The President Abused His Power

Elizabeth Garvey Legal Policy Analyst in the Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal & Judicial Studies

#4
15 Pts
Legal and Historical Precedent Are on Obama's Side

Yes – Legal and Historical Precedent Are on Obama's Side

David Arkush Director of the Congress Watch Division of Public Citizen

#5
-14 Pts
Obama Deserves Praise for Keeping GOP in Check

Yes – Obama Deserves Praise for Keeping GOP in Check

Ian Millhiser Policy Analyst with the Center for American Progress and Editor of ThinkProgress Justice

#6
-39 Pts
Cordray Has Received Bipartisan Support

Yes – Cordray Has Received Bipartisan Support

Reid Cramer Director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation


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