On October 18, the Liberty Justice Center filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) v. Jarkesy, a case addressing what powers Congress can constitutionally delegate to unaccountable regulatory agencies—including whether Congress can give an agency the power to disregard the Seventh Amendment and waive someone’s right to trial by jury.
In May of 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled that Congress had violated the Seventh Amendment by allowing the SEC to prosecute George Jarkesy through the agency’s internal tribunal—where the judges are SEC employees—rather than adhering to the right to trial by jury to which defendants in civil suits are entitled. The Fifth Circuit Court also found that Congress had unconstitutionally given the SEC overbroad discretion to choose between civil court and internal SEC proceedings.
The SEC then sought Supreme Court review. The Court will hear arguments in the case on November 29, 2023.
“The questions at the heart of this case aren’t mere legislative technicalities—they are fundamental to protecting our rights,” said Liberty Justice Center Senior Counsel Loren Seehase. “The Securities and Exchange Commission cannot claim the power to decide for itself whether citizens deserve the jury trial guaranteed to them by the Bill of Rights.”
The Liberty Justice Center’s amicus brief urges the Supreme Court to affirm the Fifth Circuit Court and rule in favor of Jarkesy. The Liberty Justice Center’s brief also argues that the Dodd-Frank Act—which gave the SEC unfettered discretion to try securities fraud actions within the agency’s own internal tribunals—violates the separation of powers by inappropriately delegating legislative authority to a regulatory agency.
The Liberty Justice Center’s amicus brief is available here.