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Supreme Court Decision Decimates FTC’s Ability to Protect Consumers Through Restitution

April 22, 2021 , , , , , ,

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in the case of AMG Capital Management, LLC v. FTC. The court held that the Federal Trade Commission cannot seek restitution from bad actors to make consumers whole — without going through a broken administrative process, first. The decision effectively strips the FTC of its ability to compensate consumers harmed by companies and organizations that violate the agency’s rules.

Public Knowledge urges Congress to clarify the Commission’s Section 13(b) authority to ensure it includes not just injunctions, but also monetary restitution for consumers. Public Knowledge commends Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA) for her pledge to move legislation “immediately” and House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chair Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for calling a hearing next week in the wake of this decision. 

The following can be attributed to Alex Petros, Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:

“It just got easier to exploit consumers and harder for the FTC to do anything about it. We need an empowered FTC free from cumbersome administrative processes with the speed and flexibility to stand up for consumers against the companies that would exploit them — not additional red tape.

“As Justice Breyer noted in his opinion, Congress can easily fix this problem by clarifying that the FTC can seek equitable remedies along with an injunction. Given that both sides of the aisle support the agency’s ability to seek restitution, it should be a priority for legislators. It’s common sense for ill-gotten gains to be returned to the pockets of consumers — not kept by those that would take advantage of them.”