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La SEC è incostituzionale? [EN]

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Matt Levine su Bloomberg parla dei dubbi costituzionali intorno ai poteri della SEC, l’agenzia indipendente di controllo dei mercati finanziari, e specificatamente nella sua funzione regolamentatrice.

Nonostante la Costituzione Americana specifichi che il potere legislativo è in mano solamente al Congresso Senato e alla Camera dei deputati, è almeno dagli anni ’30 che le agenzie governative si sono ritagliate uno spazio nella produzione di regolamenti su argomenti specifici, come accaduto con la SEC (Security and Exchange Commission) e il controllo dei mercati finanziari.

There are obviously good reasons to do things this way. Congress does not have time to write all the rules, so delegating rulemaking to agencies is efficient. Congress also has limited subject-matter expertise: The SEC knows more about securities law and financial markets than the average congressperson, so it makes sense for the SEC to write most of the securities rules. The rulemaking process is often both more flexible and more thoughtful than the legislative process; agencies have to consider public comments and explain their reasoning in a way that Congress does not. Agency rules can be overturned by a court if they are “arbitrary and capricious,” which is not generally true of laws passed by Congress; Congress can be as arbitrary as it wants.

Levine traccia il dibattito sul tema dell’attività legislativa delegata sempre più ad agenzie indipendenti, a partire da un’opinione di minoranza della Corte suprema che considera tale delega del tutto incostituzionale.

The case — Gundy v. United States — concerned a fairly technical Justice Department rule about sex offender registries. But the argument was about the nondelegation doctrine: It was about whether it was constitutional for the Justice Department to make rules like that under delegated authority from Congress. It was the sort of case that would not have made it to the Supreme Court a decade earlier — obviously this is constitutional, everyone would have said — but times were changing. The nondelegation doctrine might be coming back.

La recente sentenza è da considerarsi una decisione circoscritta, che limita i poteri della SEC in un ambito preciso e limitato, o è indice di un cambio di orientamento della Corte Suprema (sempre più a maggioranza Repubblicana) che in futuro potrebbe annullare i regolamenti della SEC su sempre più ambiti (tra cui le tematiche green, di cui l’agenzia si è recentemente occupata)?

The Supreme Court ruled, in a strange 5-3 vote, 4  that the delegation at issue there was constitutional. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote a dissent in Gundy, and it’s stuff like this:

Why did the framers insist on this particular arrangement? They believed the new federal government’s most dangerous power was the power to enact laws restricting the people’s liberty. An “excess of law-making” was, in their words, one of “the diseases to which our governments are most liable.” To address that tendency, the framers went to great lengths to make lawmaking difficult. In Article I, by far the longest part of the Constitution, the framers insisted that any proposed law must win the approval of two Houses of Congress—elected at different times, by different constituencies, and for different terms in office—and either secure the President’s approval or obtain enough support to override his veto. Some occasionally complain about Article I’s detailed and arduous processes for new legislation, but to the framers these were bulwarks of liberty. […]

That was several years ago, though, and since then the personnel of the court has changed some more. It is plausible that there are now as many as six votes for Gorsuch’s position.


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