The immediate effect of the ruling appears to be limited. It means the CFPB can't be party to a lawsuit about a company accused of scamming 9/11 first responders. The New York attorney general, who was also a plaintiff, can move forward with the case.

But the judge's decision adds fodder to the political fight over the independence of the CFPB, which was established after the financial crisis to safeguard Americans against predatory financial institutions.

The CFPB declined to comment.

The American Bankers Association, which has advocated for reining in the CFPB, said the implications of the decision "remain unclear," because other federal courts have ruled differently.

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