Does Seila Law v. CFPB allow the U.S. president to fire anyone working in any U.S. agencies without cause? I am wondering if there might be exceptions. The law targets specifically independent agencies, but does it include all independent agencies or some of them only. What are the criteria for determining if an agencies fall under the "umbrella" of the law? And are dependent agencies included, meaning all U.S. agencies?

1 Answer 1


"Seila Law" is a law firm, not a law. They were a party in a recent SCOTUS decision, Seila Law LLC v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 591 U.S ___, which involved the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by Congress, under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The court held that the structure of that law (regarding appoinntment and firing of the director) is unconstitutional:

The CFPB’s leadership by a single individual removable only for inefficiency, neglect, or malfeasance violates the separation of powers.

More specifically,

Article II vests the entire “executive Power” in the President alone, but the Constitution presumes that lesser executive officers will assist the President in discharging his duties. The President’s executive power generally includes the power to supervise — and, if necessary, remove — those who exercise the President’s authority on his behalf. The President’s removal power has long been confirmed by history and precedent.

The law in question addresses a single position, director of CFPB, not all government agencies. "Agency" is defined in 18 USC 6 as

includes any department, independent establishment, commission, administration, authority, board or bureau of the United States or any corporation in which the United States has a proprietary interest, unless the context shows that such term was intended to be used in a more limited sense.

"Department" is then defined as

one of the executive departments enumerated in section 1 of Title 5, unless the context shows that such term was intended to describe the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of the government.

POTUS firing power is about the executive branch, not the judicial or legislative branches, so it depends on what you mean by "agency". You can infer possible outcomes based on this ruling, but what they literally said is that particular law is unconstitutional.

  • Also, the president can't fire career federal employees under the Civil Service laws. mspb.gov/studies/studies/… Jul 24, 2021 at 21:10
  • @GeorgeWhite The President is not required to engage in due process. Like this answer states, the entire power of the Executive Branch is vested into their person by the Constitution. If the President decided to fire the entire Executive Branch and do all their jobs personally, they would be able to do so (at least legally, if not practically).
    – nick012000
    Jul 25, 2021 at 9:06
  • 2
    Cleveland Bd. of Educ. v. Loudermill established that government employees have a property right in their jobs and the due process requirements of the constitution applied to any attempt to take that property. Jul 25, 2021 at 18:40
  • The definition in title 18 applies only to title 18, so it is not relevant to the Dodd-Frank act. It is also not relevant to any discussion of whether a president may or may not fire anyone, because title 18 concerns crimes and criminal procedure.
    – phoog
    Jul 26, 2021 at 20:10
  • @nick012000 that is incorrect. The president does not have the discretion to fire civil service officers at will; that's the very point of the civil service: to protect those positions from political influence. The constitution vests executive power in the president, as you note, but it also creates a duty to ensure that laws are executed faithfully. There are laws that say that the president has to appoint an attorney general, and that assign particular duties to the AG, which the president has to follow. The president cannot just fire the AG and assume the AG's duties on a whim.
    – phoog
    Jul 26, 2021 at 20:27

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