President Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has alarmed progressives who fear he could contribute to the dismantling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Kavanaugh, who serves as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, ruled in 2016 that the controversial watchdog agency's structure was unconstitutional. The 2-1 ruling provided a major boost to Republican and industry efforts to abolish the consumer watchdog.

In the past, policing of the financial sector spurred numerous lawsuits against the bureau challenging its steep fines and public scoldings. After being hit with a $109 million penalty in 2013, PHH sued the CFPB, arguing that not only was the fine inappropriate, but that the CFPB lacked the authority to levy it because the agency's structure violates the Constitution.

A statute in the Dodd-Frank law protects the director from being fired for any reason other than neglect of duty or inappropriate conduct. "That's sort of the central objection to its constitutionality," said Barbara Mishkin, a consumer finance attorney at Ballard Spahr.

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