Acting FTC chair blasts Supreme Court decision limiting agency consumer power

Acting Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairwoman Rebecca Kelly Slaughter criticized the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision Thursday to limit the agency’s ability to secure monetary relief for consumers from companies found to engage in deceptive practices.

The court’s opinion, delivered by Justice Stephen Beyer, said that the FTC’s authority under a provision known as Section 13(b) does not grant the agency the ability to obtain equitable monetary relief.

Slaughter said the ruling took away the FTC’s “strongest tool” to help consumers and urged Congressional action.

“In AMG Capital, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of scam artists and dishonest corporations, leaving average Americans to pay for illegal behavior,” Slaughter said in a statement on the case, AMG Capital Management v. FTC.

Breyer wrote that the court’s ruling does not prohibit the FTC from using other provisions of the law to seek restitution, and that the commission can ask Congress to “grant it further remedial authority.”

Slaughter and other commission members are doing just that. The commissioners testified Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee regarding the need for 13(b) legislation, and Slaughter will appear before the House Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection next week.