Cochran v. Securities and Exchange Commission, No. 19-10396 (5th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The en banc court held that the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 does not strip the federal district courts of subject-matter jurisdiction to hear structural constitutional claims. The en banc court stated that 15 U.S.C. 78y does not explicitly or implicitly strip the district court of jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim; the Supreme Court has already rejected the SEC's precise jurisdictional argument under section 78y; and the Thunder Basin factors do not warrant departing from the statutory text or deviating from the Supreme Court's interpretation of section 78y. In this case, plaintiff's removal power claim is wholly collateral to the Exchange Act's statutory-review scheme, is outside the SEC's expertise, and might never receive judicial review if district court jurisdiction were precluded. Therefore, the en banc court concluded that the Thunder Basin inquiry simply reaffirms that Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Co. Accounting Oversight Board, 561 U.S. 477, 489 (2010), controls this case and that plaintiff's removal power claim is within the district court's jurisdiction.
The en banc court also held that plaintiff's removal power challenge is ripe where her claim is a pure issue of law that is fit for judicial decision without any additional factfinding. Furthermore, if plaintiff's claim is meritorious, then withholding judicial consideration would injure her by forcing her to litigate before an ALJ who is unconstitutionally insulated from presidential control. Accordingly, the en banc court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded for further proceedings.
This opinion or order relates to an opinion or order originally issued on August 11, 2020.