Examination as a Method of Consumer Protection
Volume 87, No. 4, Summer 2015
By Jean Braucher, the late Roger C. Henderson Professor of Law, University of Arizona, and Professor of Law, University of Texas School of Law; Angela Littwin, Professor, University of Texas School of Law [PDF]

Lack of compliance with consumer protection law has been a crucial problem in the field for as long as such law has existed. In the aftermath of the consumer movement of the 1960s and 1970s, scholars struggled with the question of why the movement’s new consumer protection statutes on the books did not result in more consumer protection in action. The problem was sufficiently acute that some commentators argued that the real purpose of the legislation was to legitimize the current order by providing an illusion of consumer protection. Fast-forward several decades to just before the recent financial crisis, and little had changed. At the federal level, an ideological aversion to consumer protection that went beyond disclosure led to a paucity of regulatory development and enforcement, despite a statutory regime that could have provided meaningful consumer protection. States attempted to fill the gap, but were stopped by the aggressive preemption stances taken by some federal banking regulators. There was so little consumer protection taking place, particularly regarding financial products, that an unsustainable level of consumer debt became a major contributor to the recent financial crisis.