Credit Reform and the States: The Vital Role of Attorneys General after Dodd-Frank

60 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2013 Last revised: 9 Sep 2015

See all articles by Mark Totten

Mark Totten

Michigan State University College of Law

Date Written: January 27, 2013


Congress employed multiple strategies in the wake of the Great Recession to provide greater protections for consumers in the financial marketplace. One strategy aimed at agency design and resulted in creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Another strategy created new substantive prohibitions and corresponding rulemaking powers. A third strategy channeled the forces of federalism, placing a limit on agency preemption and empowering state attorneys general to enforce federal law. Scholars have focused on the first two strategies, plus the new constraints on preemption, but so far have not given sustained attention to the role of states as co-enforcers of federal consumer financial protection law. This Article seeks to fill that void, focusing on implementation and charting a path for normative assessment.

I begin by placing this dual enforcement scheme within the context of recent history and the evolving infrastructure for consumer financial protection in the United States. I then consider several interpretive issues to account for the substantive, procedural, and remedial powers Congress placed in the hands of state attorneys general. Recognizing that the success of this concurrent enforcement regime will depend in part on early coordination, I next identify several implementation priorities necessary to create a scheme that is both effective and efficient. Finally, I identify key questions and offer preliminary observations toward a normative assessment of this scheme and its implications both for consumer finance and American federalism.

Keywords: enforcement, state attorneys general, Dodd-Frank Act, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, consumer financial protection

Suggested Citation

Totten, Mark, Credit Reform and the States: The Vital Role of Attorneys General after Dodd-Frank (January 27, 2013). Mark Totten, Credit Reform and the States: The Vital Role of Attorneys General After Dodd-Frank, 99 Iowa L. Rev. 115 (2013)., Available at SSRN: or

Mark Totten (Contact Author)

Michigan State University College of Law ( email )

318 Law College Building
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300
United States


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