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Yesterday’s Federal Court Decision: Constitutional Tyranny at the SEC

Those complaining that Senator Elizabeth Warren went too far in her complaints against Mary Jo White’s leadership at the Securities and Exchange Commission obviously didn’t see yesterday’s Federal court decision coming. It now appears that Senator Warren would have had good grounds to also charge Mary Jo White with replicating the judicial practices of King George III – against whom the Declaration of Independence was drafted.

U.S. District Court Judge, Leigh Martin May, ruled yesterday in Atlanta that the SEC’s system of selecting in-house judges to hear and decide SEC cases brought against individuals charged with securities violations was “likely unconstitutional.” The Judge imposed a preliminary injunction in an SEC insider-trading case until she issues her final decision in the matter.

During the tenure of Mary Jo White at the SEC, the agency has increasingly used its own in-house judges to decide securities fraud cases. That practice is now being increasingly challenged by individuals demanding their right to have their cases heard before a federal judge and a jury of their peers as provided for under the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The public is not widely aware that the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, that was billed as a means of cleaning up Wall Street, gave the SEC the ability to unilaterally decide if it would bring its cases against unregistered individuals in a Federal Court, with full due process protections, or use one of its own, in-house Administrative Law Judges and its watered-down due process rules.

The Wall Street Journal’s Jean Eaglesham revealed in an article on October 21, 2014 that “The Securities and Exchange Commission is increasingly steering cases to hearings in front of the agency’s appointed administrative judges, who found in its favor in every verdict for the 12 months through September.” Mary Jo White was sworn in as Chair of the SEC on April 10, 2013 and the practice has proliferated under her reign.

That kind of tyranny is what the founding fathers alleged against King George III in the Declaration of Independence. They stated in the historic document that King George III “has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries” and, furthermore, he was “depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury.”

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