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Tracking the Hill's briefings, luncheons, receptions, and more.
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Are Administrative Law Judges Unconstitutional?

  • 214 Massachusetts Avenue Northeast Washington, DC, 20002 United States (map)

In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, a case with important implications for administering government in an accountable manner. Federal agencies wield enormous power over the lives of Americans in many respects. Instead of bringing enforcement actions against individuals or businesses in federal court, agencies often opt to commence proceedings where in-house judges preside. These administrative law judges or “ALJs” make up what is sometimes called the “hidden judiciary.” They adjudicate claims, decide what evidence is admissible, and enforce penalties and compliance. Some believe ALJs are well-suited to handle these proceedings efficiently, but others believe ALJs suffer from a lack of independence because they work for the agency that initiated the proceedings. In a few weeks, the Supreme Court will decide whether they are unconstitutional. The Court will consider whether ALJs are “Officers of the United States” within the meaning of the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. Why is this a big deal? What does this mean for government accountability? And what effect might this have on thousands of enforcement actions? Please join us as an expert panel discusses this important case.