Gorsuch has unanimous first opinion for Supreme Court

That company sold a portfolio of these unpaid loans for a few cents on the dollar to Santander, a consumer finance company, which in turn sought to collect on them.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch has issued his first opinion since joining the high court.

While it might sound silly, or even outrageous, to say that someone trying to collect a debt is not a debt collector, the Supreme Court is merely the latest to chime in on that side of the argument.

But in affirming the lower court rulings, Gorsuch said it is not the court's job to rewrite a constitutionally valid text under a banner of speculation about what Congress might have done had it faced this question.

"These are matters for Congress, not this court", he wrote.

The court found that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prohibits debt collectors from harrassing or publicly shaming debtors, doesn't apply to banks.

The Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the lawsuit's dismissal previous year, saying the law applied only to debt collectors, and Santander became a creditor when it purchased the loans. Because the consumers alleged that Santander purchased and, thus, owned the debt, Santander was not collecting on behalf of another, and the FDCPA does not apply to creditors who collect debts on their own accounts.

The plaintiffs argued that unscrupulous debt collectors could evade the law by buying the debt.

Whether or not Santander violated the FDCPA rules has never been decided, since both the District Court judge and the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals - and now the Supreme Court - said the case against the bank should be dismissed because its debt-collection practices aren't covered by that law. Founded in 1939, ACA brings together third-party collection agencies, law firms, asset buying companies, creditors and vendor affiliates, representing tens of thousands of industry professionals. "This particular type of entity, is not what Congress had before it when it passed the law", he said, according to SCOTUSBlog.

The opinion notes that it may be entirely reasonable to think that the FDCPA should apply to all businesses attempting to collect debts, regardless of ownership, and that Congress may someday create a statute that does apply these rules more generally.

Here, Santander Consumer USA Inc. acquired defaulted loans from CitiFinancial Auto and then began to collect on those loans. "Constant competition between constable and quarry, regulator and regulated, can come as no surprise in our changing world".

  • Zachary Reyes