What Are the Implications of the Supreme Court’s Decision in Lucia v. SEC for Fund Managers?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Lucia v. SEC that the SEC’s administrative law judges (ALJs) are “Officers of the United States” under the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution and must therefore be appointed by either the President or the SEC. Because current ALJs were selected by SEC staff, they were not properly appointed, and thus their actions were invalid. As a result of this decision, the Court ordered the SEC to give Raymond J. Lucia a new administrative hearing. The status of other cases pending before ALJs, however, is less certain. In fact, in response to the decision, the SEC issued a 30‑day stay, halting these cases until it decides the appropriate course of action. The Lucia decision has implications beyond Lucia himself – and beyond the SEC. This article explains the background of the case, summarizes the Supreme Court’s decision and provides insight from two attorneys – including the one who successfully argued the Lucia case before the Supreme Court – on the short- and long-term ramifications for fund managers in general and those with pending enforcement actions. For other recent Supreme Court decisions, see “Does the Digital Realty Decision Represent a Sea Change for Whistleblowers or Merely More of the Same?” (Mar. 15, 2018); and “Implications for Fund Managers of the Supreme Court’s Ruling in Kokesh v. SEC” (Jun. 15, 2017).

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