The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
Opinion writing is a matter of taste, but I think the D.C. Circuit's recent opinion in Jarkesy v. SEC is a fine example of excellent legal writing. The issue in the case is whether a person subject to administrative proceedings before the Securities and Exchange Commission can bring a suit in federal district court to block the administrative proceeding. The opinion, by Judge Sri Srinivasan, concludes that the answer is "no."
I have no particular interest in the subject area of the case, and I don't know if the case describes the law accurately. But I think Judge Srinivasan's writing is excellent. It's marvelously clear without being oversimplified. It keeps the reader engaged and teaches the law along the way. And it does so without relying on the crutch of being showy or overly cute.
Here's the beginning of the opinion:
The Securities and Exchange Commission brought an administrative proceeding against George Jarkesy, Jr., charging him with securities fraud. That proceeding remains ongoing. In the meantime, Jarkesy filed this action in federal district court seeking the administrative proceeding's termination. He argues that the proceeding's initiation and conduct infringe his constitutional rights in several ways. The district court dismissed his action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. The court concluded that Congress, by establishing a detailed statutory scheme providing for an administrative proceeding before the Commission plus the prospect of judicial review in a court of appeals, implicitly precluded concurrent district-court jurisdiction over challenges like Jarkesy's.
We agree with the district court and affirm its judgment. In Thunder Basin Coal Co. v. Reich, 510 U.S. 200 (1994), the Supreme Court set forth a framework for determining when a statutory scheme of administrative and judicial review forecloses parallel district-court jurisdiction. The ultimate question is whether Congress intended exclusivity when it established the statutory scheme. Applying the considerations outlined in Thunder Basin and its progeny, we find the answer here is yes. The result is that Jarkesy, instead of obtaining judicial review of his challenges to the Commission's administrative proceeding now, can secure judicial review in a court of appeals when (and if) the proceeding culminates in a resolution against him.