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Association of Administrative Law Judges v. Colvin

777 F.3d 402 (2015)

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Association of Administrative Law Judges v. Colvin

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

777 F.3d 402 (2015)

Facts

In 2007, the Social Security Administration’s chief administrative-law judge (ALJ) issued a directive for ALJ’s to issue 500–700 legally sufficient decisions annually. The directive was issued to meet the goal of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, Carolyn Colvin (defendant), of reducing the administration backlog of disability cases. At the time that the directive issued setting the quota, less than half of the ALJs were deciding more than 500 cases per year. The directive described the quota as a goal; however, the administration had taken formal and informal disciplinary actions to enforce it. The Association of Administrative Law Judges, a union that represents ALJs in collective bargaining with various administrative agencies, along with three ALJs who were employed by the Social Security Administration (plaintiffs), sued the commissioner in a United States district court, claiming that the quota interfered with the ALJ’s decisional independence in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The district court dismissed the complaint for want of subject-matter jurisdiction, holding that the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 precluded the ALJs from seeking relief under the APA. The ALJs appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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