Attorneys with AARP Foundation Litigation filed AARP's "friend of the court" brief in the appeal, jointly with the Center for Responsible Lending and other consumer protection advocacy groups and legal services organizations. The brief detailed the pernicious effects car title loans and other alternative financing options have on working families who are living at the margin, outlines how these alternative financing services are often deceptively and aggressively marketed and points out that the dormant commerce clause only prevents states from covering activities that are entirely outside state lines. AARP's brief noted that the lender involved in the case is doing significant business voluntarily within Indiana's state borders and states should be able to pass consumer protection laws that protect their residents. In this case, the lender intentionally directs mail, television and phone book advertisements at Indiana consumers, records liens with the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles, makes collection calls to Indiana consumers, contracts with firms to repossess and auction cars in Indiana and obtains Indiana titles to cars repossessed from Indiana consumers.
Although the facts of this case concerned regulation of car title lenders, the case impacts regulation of many other types of alternative financial services, including payday loans, targeted to low-income and working poor consumers, residents of minority neighborhoods and individuals with heavy debt burdens or less favorable credit histories.
AARP seeks to ensure that consumers — particularly those who are cash-strapped or living at the margins —- are not preyed upon with high interest, high fees and misleading loan terms. The decision of the U.S. Supreme Court not to disturb the ruling in Mills v. Midwest Title Loans is a disappointment.