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Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission

United States Supreme Court
138 S. Ct. 2044 (2018)


Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (defendant) administrative law judges (ALJs) presided over adjudications of entities that allegedly violated securities laws. ALJs issued recommended decisions, which the full SEC could review or could choose not to review. If the SEC chose not to review the decision, that decision became the final action of the SEC. SEC ALJs were hired by SEC staff, not appointed by the president or SEC commissioners. However, the ALJ position was created by federal statute, and ALJs did “receive[] a career appointment.” The SEC charged Raymond Lucia (plaintiff) with violating securities laws. An SEC ALJ presided over Lucia’s hearing and found Lucia guilty. Lucia appealed the decision to the full SEC, arguing that the ALJ was an Officer of the United States who must be appointed under the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The SEC disagreed and affirmed the decision. Lucia appealed in federal court. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kagan, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Breyer, J.)

Dissent (Sotomayor, J.)

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