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Government Enforcement Exposed - "The GEE"
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13 Jul 2018 Well, That Didn’t Take Long – and With No Fanfare, Decades of Administrative Law Are Upended

Perhaps the administration had this one in the can already. On Tuesday, less than three weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Lucia, President Trump signed an executive order essentially applying the Supreme Court’s rationale in Lucia to the hiring of all administrative law judges (ALJs) in the federal government. Entitled, “Executive Order Excepting Administrative Law Judges from the Competitive Service,” the order creates a new exception from the federal government’s typical civil service hiring process for seemingly all ALJs, or at least those that perform adjudicative functions in regulatory enforcement proceedings. And, perhaps most importantly, tucked into the very end of the order, the order seemingly applies the same exception to removal of ALJs, thus apparently eliminating the requirement that ALJs only be removed…

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09 Jul 2018 Supreme Court Decides Lucia – But the Saga Continues

After almost two years (and six blog posts), we have reached the conclusion of the SEC v. Lucia saga. Except we haven’t.  The U.S. Supreme Court decided Lucia on June 21, 2018. However, just as Marvel movies now are simply prequels to the next action movie, the fractured collection of opinions in Lucia is simply a cliffhanger that sets the stage for sequel cases in future Terms.   Justice Kagan authored the six-Justice majority opinion and was joined by the Chief, and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch. Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Gorsuch, concurred separately, offering their own expansive take on the Appointments Clause. Justice Breyer concurred in part and dissented in part. Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg joined in the dissenting portion of Justice…

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06 Apr 2018 COULD THE SUPREME COURT’S LUCIA ARGUMENT BECOME A CAGE MATCH?

    On April 23, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear what may be one of the most impactful cases for the Securities and Exchange Commission, and perhaps other federal administrative agencies, in a long time.  In Lucia v. SEC, the Supreme Court will hear arguments – including from the U.S. Solicitor General – that the way that the SEC’s administrative law judges (ALJs) are appointed violates the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause.  For prior posts, see [Jan 23, 2018; Jan 16, 2018, Jan 24, 2017, Sept 2, 2016].   The briefing is essentially completed, and as the Solicitor General’s recent request for divided argument suggests, the battle-lines here are untraditional.  In fact, the divergent positions staked out by the three parties that are arguing (to…

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23 Jan 2018 First-Time Supreme Court Advocate Appointed to Argue the SEC’s Case in Lucia

  To follow-up on our previous post, on January 18, the Supreme Court appointed Anton Metlitsky of O’Melveny & Myers to argue on behalf of the SEC in Lucia after the Solicitor General abandoned its defense of the SEC’s position in its response to Lucia’s petition for certiorari. This will be Metlitsky’s first argument before the Supreme Court.   According to the National Law Journal, Supreme Court tradition dictates that the Circuit Justice for the circuit that decided the case – here, the D.C. Circuit – picks one of his or her former clerks in these situations. Chief Justice Roberts (Circuit Justice for the D.C. Circuit) selected Metlitsky, one of his former clerks. The article also stated that, according to tradition, the appointment goes to…

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16 Jan 2018 SEC’s Appointments Clause Dilemma Gets Worse

  On January 12, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in SEC v. Lucia, which will decide whether the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) administrative law judges (ALJs) are appointed consistently with the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. Unfortunately for the SEC, at least right now, no one is arguing that the SEC’s process is constitutional. What the Court does in this case will potentially upend not only the SEC’s ALJ process but other agencies’ as well.   As this blog has explained here and here, there is a clear circuit split on whether the way that the SEC hires its ALJs comports with the Appointments Clause. The Appointments Clause provides:   [The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall…

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12 Jun 2017 U.S. Supreme Court Delivers Blow Limiting SEC Disgorgement Power

  In a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and issued on June 5, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, holding that SEC disgorgement constitutes a penalty under 28 U.S.C. § 2462, thereby making such actions subject to the five-year limitations period for “an action, suit or proceeding for the enforcement of any civil fine, penalty or forfeiture.” In the case, Kokesh v. Securities and Exchange Commission , the court found the “SEC disgorgement… bears all the hallmarks of a penalty: It is imposed as a consequence of violating a public law and it is intended to deter, not compensate.”   The ruling resolves a circuit split and will have a far-reaching impact…

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11 Aug 2015 WHY NEWMAN MIGHT NOT BE HEADED TO THE SUPREME COURT

In the latest chapter of the United States v. Newman insider trading case, the Solicitor General recently filed its petition for writ of certiorari, asking the United States Supreme Court to hear the case. While the court is unlikely to decide on the government’s petition until the end of the year, the government’s petition may have actually diminished the chances that the Supreme Court will take the case.   As we have discussed previously, April 29, 2014; Dec. 23, 2014; and March 9, 2015, the Second Circuit held last year that an insider trading conviction requires that: (1) an insider tipper act for a “personal benefit” of financial consideration, or something at least akin to monetary gain; and (2) the remote tippee know that the…

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03 Mar 2015 SCOTUS Limits Definition of “Tangible Object” under Sarbanes-Oxley Act

The Supreme Court recently issued a decision in the case discussed in the December 2014 post “Prosecutorial Over-criminalization: Fishing for Guilty Pleas.” This case involved the conviction of Mr. Yates, a fisherman, who was found guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. §1519, the so-called “anti-shredding” provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. A federal jury convicted Yates of destroying a tangible object with the intent to obstruct an investigation after he ordered his crew to discard some fish which fell short of the minimum legal size. The Eleventh Circuit upheld the ruling, finding that the phrase “tangible object” applied to fish.   The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision issued last week, overturned the Eleventh Circuit and ruled in favor of Mr. Yates. In its brief, the Government argued…

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06 Oct 2014 Supreme Court Passes on Esquenazi, Makes Instrumentality Test Settled Law

  The Supreme Court today declined to issue a writ of certiorari for the appellants in the case of United States v. Esquenazi.  As readers will recall from our previous post, the Esquenazi decision was noteworthy for adopting the Department of Justice’s relatively expansive definition of who qualifies as a “foreign official” under Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Now it appears that this definition is settled law.   While FCPA practitioners had hoped that the Supreme Court might step in to decide this issue, it appears that there was no room on the docket under the circumstances. The decision not to grant review of the Esquenazi decision is likely the result of a lack of any disagreement among the circuit courts on the issue. This is,…

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18 Jul 2014 Corporations and Unreasonable Searches and Seizures: Does the Supreme Court’s Decision in Riley v. California Signal the Rebirth of the 4th Amendment in White Collar Cases?

There has been much attention paid to the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Riley v. California, Nos. 13-132 and 13-212 (June 25, 2014), and justifiably so. It was notable because it was a 9-0 decision in a criminal case – a rare occurrence in the Supreme Court’s history, especially for this deeply-divided Court. But it was also an important, landmark ruling for the Fourth Amendment and its protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.   In its narrowest interpretation, the Supreme Court’s decision in Riley rejected the argument made by law enforcement that cell phones could be searched without a valid warrant if they were seized at the time of arrest. The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that there are appropriate exceptions to the Fourth Amendment’s…

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