Protect Democracy Files Amicus Brief in Collins v. Mnuchin Rejecting the Theory that the President’s Power Over the Executive Branch is Absolute

On October 30, 2020, Protect Democracy filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in Collins v. Mnuchin, countering the argument that the Constitution grants the president the power to remove heads of federal agencies at will. The brief was filed on behalf of Fordham Law Professor Jed H. Shugerman. The brief argues that new historical evidence shows that the first Congress in 1789 never supported the “unitary executive” theory that the Constitution grants the president exclusive removal power. In fact, the first Congress itself limited the president’s removal power. 

Collins v. Mnuchin concerns shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who argue that the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) structure violates the separation of powers principle because the agency is led by a single individual who cannot be removed by the president at will. Our brief explains that the plaintiffs’ arguments are contrary to the Constitution’s history and text. In fact, the FHFA’s structure is constitutional and in accordance with Congress’s long standing approach to executive removal, dating back to the first Congress. 

Read the full brief here