Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Holds That Mine Safety and Health Administrative Judge Appointments are Invalid
In a unanimous decision rendered on July 31, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the administrative law judges appointed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (“MSHA”) have been invalid. Under the prior practice, the MSHA judges were appointed by the agency’s Chief Administrative Law Judge. Applying a recent decision from the US Supreme Court involving administrative law judges appointed at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Sixth Circuit held that the MSHA judges must be appointed by the President or in the alternative the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Applying Lucia v. SEC, the MSHA administrative law judges are “inferior officers” under the Appointment Clause of the U.S. Constitution and, in consequence, must be appointed by the head of the agency or the President.
The decision of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals is Jones Brothers Inc. v. Secretary of Labor, No. 17-3483 (6th Cir. July 31, 2018).
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