HomeNewsUS SEC Can No Longer Turn to In-House Tribunals

US SEC Can No Longer Turn to In-House Tribunals


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can no longer rely on in-house judges to settle suits, ruled the US Supreme Court last week. Going forward, the SEC must take all its cases to federal court and fight them through trials with neutral juries and judges present while enforcing securities laws and penalizing perpetrators.

As per the Supreme Court verdict, in-house tribunals violate the Seventh Amendment, which offers the constitutional right to a jury trial, thereby giving the SEC unjust power. It voted 6-3 to remove this executive power bestowed upon the financial regulator in 2010 through the Dodd-Frank Act during the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

The SEC could handle civil suits and levy financial penalties using in-house administrative judges and internal proceedings rather than involving juries. As this ruling hits the SEC, other federal agencies can expect the same as concerns about constitutional violations push the Supreme Court to remove this executive privilege throughout.

By doing so, it is trying to level the playing field. Administrative proceedings to decide civil suits give federal agencies the home turf advantage. So far, the SEC has played judge, jury, and executioner for cases it closed without jury trials. Chief Justice John Roberts, one of the Judges who voted for removing this executive power, wrote for the court, “A defendant facing a fraud suit has the right to be tried by a jury of his peers before a neutral adjudicator.”

Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote an opposing view, “The majority today upends longstanding precedent and the established practice of its coequal partners in our tripartite system of government.” She feels that federal agencies enforce the laws set by Congress through internal proceedings, and removing their power to conduct such proceedings will diminish their ability to apply the law effectively.

Sotomayor added, “Today‘s ruling is part of a disconcerting trend: When it comes to the separation of powers, this court tells the American public and its coordinate branches that it knows best.”

Image by Daniel Bone from Pixabay


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