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Supreme Court weighs challenge to SEC in-house judges

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(Reuters) — U.S. Supreme Court justices on Monday appeared divided over a challenge to the constitutionality of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s selection of in-house judges to enforce investor protection laws in a case involving a former radio host and investment adviser backed by the Trump administration.

The court heard arguments in an appeal by Raymond Lucia, who was given a lifetime ban from investment-related work by an SEC administrative law judge for misleading investors in his “Buckets Of Money” retirement wealth presentations. The case could expand the control by the president and political appointees over officials in various federal agencies.

Mr. Lucia argued that the SEC exceeded its authority in its hiring of the judges, violating part of the U.S. Constitution that gives the president the power to appoint certain types of federal officials. The justices on Monday struggled to determine whether a change in how administrative law judges are appointed would undermine the judges’ independence in making decisions.