The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the way a major consumer protection watchdog, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is funded.

In a 7-to-2 ruling yesterday, justices upheld the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau against a challenge to its funding. The agency, funded by the Federal Reserve and not Congressional appropriations, was set up in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash.

“The Supreme Court followed the law, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is still in the fight against predatory lenders,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who first proposed the idea for the agency in 2007, told Morning Edition co-host Jeremy Siegel.

The agency, she said, has made a difference for consumers who fell victim to predatory lending, illegal fees and more.

“It has returned more than $20 billion directly to consumers who got cheated: Got cheated on credit cards, got cheated on payday loans, got cheated on mortgages, got cheated on all kinds of things,” Warren said. “Because there's an effective watchdog just to keep the playing field level, to get rid of the tricks and the traps and the lying, that means there are a lot of people who never got cheated in the first place, and that's really the job of the CFPB.”

The ruling against the agency would have been a major win for conservatives, casting doubt on the CFPB's regulatory efforts to protect consumers from predatory and deceptive practices by financial institutions.

At the heart of this ruling is the fact that the CFPB's funding is not determined by Congress, but the Federal Reserve, which critics say does limit congressional oversight.

“The first banking regulator was put in place back during the Civil War because banks were out gouging people. That was 1863,” Warren said. “And the insight that Congress had was: We better separate the funding from the political process.”

She noted that the Federal Reserve, Social Security and Medicare are funded outside of the appropriations process as well.

“The whole idea is to say, look, if the banks can come in and lobby some of their friends in Congress to cut back on the funding for the bank regulators, then basically they can make those regulations much weaker or even go away,” Warren said. “The banks have got plenty of money to lobby. They've got plenty of money to figure out the tricks and traps. We need somebody on the consumer side, and that's what the CFPB is.”

Consumers in Massachusetts are now facing fallout from a mounting crisis surrounding private hospitals and Steward Health Care, the bankrupt owner of hospitals and medical facilities in the Commonwealth.

There are plans for the sale of these hospitals. Warren said her first priority is keeping hospitals open and making sure its employees are paid and able to provide care.

But she also expressed concern over the fact that private equity companies are allowed to buy and run health care facilities.

“The way I see it is that we need to be pushing hard on the people who created this problem to begin with,” she said. “[Steward CEO] Ralph de la Torre and a handful of other investors sucked more than $1 billion out of these Steward hospitals, and they went off and got rich and left behind these hollowed out shells. We need to be after them for what they've done to these hospitals.”

When asked about protests on local college campuses regarding the war in Gaza, Warren said she was “very grateful to live in a nation where people can protest.”

This week, the last encampment in the Boston area protesting the war in Gaza was cleared at Harvard. And unlike at other schools, that came after negotiations between the school and students, not a police response.

“I think that the ability at Harvard for the students and faculty and administration and everybody else who had an interest in this, to be able to keep the lines of communication open and to be able to talk, and to talk about what kind of changes could be made that could make a real difference,” she said. “I think that's important, and I think it's the right approach for us to use.”

Warren noted that at the moment, she would like to keep the focus on what is happening in Gaza.

“I really want to keep the focus most of all on what's going on in Gaza, that the invasion of Rafah threatens more and more civilian lives, and the inability to get humanitarian relief means that more babies, more elderly people, are starving,” Warren said. “And this is something that the United States needs to bring even more force on its ally to say, we've got to put a stop to this. This is not right.”