PCAOB is Fixed – May Take Other Agencies Down (or get Fixed)

In the Free Enterprise vs. PCAOB decision, the Supreme Court found that a double layer of limitation of firing for cause is unconstitutional. You can’t have an agency where the officers are only removable for cause under another federal agency whose members are only removable for cause. One level of protected tenure is acceptable, but two is not.

In his dissent, Justice Breyer argued that PCAOB is not the only agency that had two level of protected tenure. He goes on to name names. He identifies four other appointments that have more than one level of protection.

Federal Labor Relations Authority: Foreign Service Labor Relations Board
“The Chairperson [of the FLRA, who also chairs the Board] may remove any other Board member . . . for corruption, neglect of duty, malfeasance, or demonstrated incapacity to perform his or her functions . . . .” 22 U. S. C. §4106(e)

General Services Administration: Civilian Board of Contract Appeals
“Members of the Civilian Board shall be subject to removal in the same manner as administrative law judges, [i.e., ‘only for good cause established and determined by the Merit Systems Protection Board.’] ” 41 U. S. C. §438(b)(2)

Postal Service: Inspector General
“The Inspector General may at any time be removed upon the written concurrence of at least 7 Governors, but only for cause.” 39 U. S. C. §202(e)(3)

Social Security Administration: Office of the Chief Actuary
“The Chief Actuary may be removed only for cause.” 42 U. S. C. §902(c)(1)

I think Justice Breyer just removed tenure from these positions.  In reading the PCAOB decision, I don’t think these positions are unconstitutional. Merely, they have lost their tenure and can now be removed at-will by the independent boards that appoint them.

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2 Responses to PCAOB is Fixed – May Take Other Agencies Down (or get Fixed)

  1. Matt Kelly June 29, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    To my thinking, the PCAOB decision ended up as anti-climatic as ‘The Sopranos’ finale. I think the Free Enterprise Fund people were hoping for the ‘Newhart’ finale, where we’d all wake up and find out SOX was just a dream.

    • Doug Cornelius June 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

      I was thinking more of the USFL’s victory over the NFL in its antitrust lawsuit.
      Court:”The NFL is an duly adjudicated illegal monopoly.”
      USFL:”Yeah we won.”
      Court: “And damages are trebled”
      USFL:”Yeah, big bucks.”
      Court:”NFL, empty your pockets and pay the USFL $3.76.”
      USFL:????
      Court:”You’re entitled to the $0.76 of interest on your judgment. I’m not letting the NFL off easy.”
      USFL: “Awww, man.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Football_League#USFL_v._NFL_lawsuit