Key Supreme Court justices expressed deep reservations regarding the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement actions for securities fraud.
They suggested the court could limit the agency’s power, particularly in relation to the use of in-house administrative law judges and the violation of an individual’s right to trial by jury under the Seventh Amendment.
“We’d agree that the right to trial by jury, whether it’s criminal or civil is a very important foundational freedom in American Society,” Justice Neil Gorsuch said. (Trending: Biden Shamefully Removes God From National Address)
“This is not your grandfather’s SEC,” Gorsuch added
“It does seem odd from a constitutional perspective to say that a private suit triggers the Article Three right to a federal court and a jury against you for money, but a government suit against you for money is somehow exempt from” those courts, Justice Brett Kavanaugh said.
“Congress does not violate the Seventh Amendment when it authorizes an agency to impose civil penalties and administrative proceedings to enforce a federal statute,” Principal Deputy Solicitor General Brian Fletcher said.
The case involves a dispute concerning the constitutionality of the SEC’s method of adjudicating fraud claims and could have broader implications for other agencies.
Lawyer Alan Morrison believes the 5th Circuit’s decision, “was made without proper appreciation for the need for Congress to have flexibility when it seeks to solve important problems by making use of agency adjudication in today’s regulatory framework.”
“That is wrong,” Morrison stated.
“Nothing in the Constitution forbids Congress from assuring that administrative judges do not serve at the whim of their agency heads in order to protect the rights of those who appear before them.”
The court appears to be focused on the Seventh Amendment right to a jury and may not address other parts of the federal appeals court’s decision.