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Free Enterprise Fund and Beckstead and Watts, LLP v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board

Docket No. Op. Below Argument Opinion Vote Author Term
08-861 D.C. Cir. Dec 7, 2009
Tr.
Jun 28, 2010 5-4 Roberts OT 2009

Holding: The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board has expansive powers to regulate accounting firms that audit public companies. Its members are appointed by Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and cannot be removed except for “good cause.” The members of the SEC, in turn, may be removed by the President only for “good cause.” The Court ruled that the two-tiered “good cause” protection violates separation of powers principles by depriving the President of sufficient authority to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed by executive branch officials.

Judgment: Affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded, 5-4, in an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts on June 28, 2010. Justice Breyer dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Sotomayor.

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