United States Supreme Court To Hear Appeal On SEC Power To Initiate Administrative Proceedings
On June 30, 2023, the United States Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal regarding the constitutionality of administrative proceedings in the case of George Jarkesy and Patriot28 LLC v. SEC, which could have important ramifications on how federal agencies bring actions against alleged wrongdoers. This grant of certiorari stems from a May 18, 2022, Fifth Circuit decision, Jarkesy v. Sec. & Exch. Comm’n, 34 F.4th 446 (5th Cir. 2022), which held that the use of administrative proceedings by the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) was unconstitutional, but its reasoning could also impact proceedings before the Federal Trade Commission and other agencies.
Supreme Court Holds That Structural Challenges To Agency Administrative Proceedings May Be Brought Directly In Federal Court
On April 14, 2023, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in the consolidated cases of Axon Enterprises Inc. v. FTC and SEC v. Cochran, finding that constitutional challenges to the ability of the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) to bring certain claims as administrative proceedings can bypass the administrative appeals process and be brought directly in federal court. The Court concluded that the authorizing statutes of the regulatory agencies do not implicitly restrict federal district courts of original jurisdiction to hear any challenges to an agency’s constitutionality. Thus, although the Court did not decide the substance of the petitioners’ constitutional challenges to the agencies’ administrative proceeding processes, it allowed petitioners’ challenges to move forward in federal court.