WASHINGTON, DC — In a costly setback for millions of consumers, Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas today ruled in favor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)’s final rule capping most credit card late fees at $8, down from an average of $32. The rule was set to take effect May 14th and expected to save consumers up to $10 billion a year, but the U.S. Chamber’s legal obstruction will now cost everyday families across the country roughly $27 million each day the rule is stayed. Government watchdog Accountable.US rebuked the decision that is tainted with previous conflicts of interest involving at least one Fifth Circuit Judge, a worsening judge shopping crisis, and a swampy web of influence between some of the Judges involved in the legal back and forth of the case and the plaintiff, the U.S. Chamber.

In their latest in a stack of lawsuits designed to pad record corporate profits at the expense of everyone else, the U.S. Chamber got its way for now -- ensuring families get price-gouged a little longer with credit card late fees as high as $41. The U.S. Chamber and the big banks they represent have corrupted our judicial system by venue shopping in courtrooms of least resistance, going out of their way to avoid having their lawsuit heard by a fair and neutral federal judge. It’s time the U.S. Chamber stops clogging the courts with baseless lawsuits designed to enrich corporate CEOs on the backs of working families – and it’s time the judiciary stops legitimizing venue shopping from big industry. Every day the Biden administration’s action against predatory junk fees is held in legal limbo by the big bank-funded U.S. Chamber will cost everyday families nearly $27 million.”

Accountable.US’ Liz Zelnick

BACKGROUND: What You Need to Know About the History of the Fifth Circuit’s Swampy Ties to the U.S. Chamber and Other 5th Circuit Conflicts of Interest: 

  • JUDGE SHOPPING: The U.S. Chamber predictably sued the Biden administration in Texas federal court to ensure it fell under the jurisdiction of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals where 19 out of the 26 judges were appointed by Republicans, including 6 by Donald Trump. An Accountable.US analysis found that since Donald Trump took office in January 2017, roughly 63% of the U.S. Chamber’s lawsuits challenging federal regulations were filed within district courts under the Fifth Circuit’s jurisdiction.
  • CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Trump-appointed 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Don Willett decided not to recuse himself in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s lawsuit against the CFPB’s credit card late fee rule even though Politico reported Willett’s most recent financial disclosure report lists up to tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of shares in Citigroup, a bank greatly impacted by the CFPB’s action capping credit card late fees and that is also member of the trade groups behind the lawsuit including the U.S. Chamber, American Bankers Association and Consumer Bankers Association. In addition, an Accountable.US review found Fifth Circuit judges have collectively reported up to $745,000 in investments in credit card or credit issuing companies in their most recently available public financial disclosures.
  • THE SWAMP: An Accountable.US report found the U.S. Chamber heavily funds the Federalist Society—which has paid thousands of dollars in travel expenses for Fifth Circuit judges—donating between $800k to nearly $1.2M since 2008. Several attorneys at the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center are contributors to the Federalist Society. The Chamber has also frequently partnered with the law firm Wiley Rein LLP, self-described as DC’s “secret firm” where several of the firm’s partners were also law clerks for numerous Fifth Circuit judges. In addition, several of the U.S. Chamber’s own personnel, and firms the group works with to protect corporations, have served as law clerks for several current Fifth Circuit judges on the court.
  • U.S. CHAMBER REPRESENTS BIG BANK CEOs, NOT SMALL BIZ: Among the U.S. Chamber’s members are major credit card issuers JPMorgan, American Express, Citi, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo which collectively charged consumers billions in credit card late fees and other service charges in 2023 alone, a recent Accountable.US analysis found.
  •  A BASELESS CASE: An Accountable.US analysis dispelled top myths employed by the credit card industry to excuse hidden and excessive late fees – including claims that lowering these junk fees will somehow have adverse effects on borrowers and that high credit card fees are somehow beneficial to consumers. Another Accountable.US analysis of recent corporate earnings and legal settlements debunked dubious claims from big bank CEOs that claim they cannot maintain profits without high-cost junk fees.




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