The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday gutted the Federal Trade Commission’s power to seek federal court orders forcing bad marketplace actors to pay restitution, shutting down a critical tool the FTC uses to recover money from scammers and antitrust violators.

In a unanimous opinion written by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the high court said Congress never intended for the FTC to wield the authority to collect restitution or disgorgement of ill-gotten gains as an equitable relief power under the Federal Trade Commission Act’s Section 13(b), which was added to the statute in the 1970s and gave the agency authority to ask district courts for injunctions against illegal conduct.

Published in Law360.