Article II

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An Appointment with Time: Defining the Scope of a Timely Challenge After Lucia v. SEC

By Dustin G. Graber

In its Appointments Clause jurisprudence, the Supreme Court has articulated a “timely challenge” requirement for litigants contesting the appointment of Officers of the United States. Most recently, the Court recited this language in Lucia v. SEC, a case in the October 2017 term, where it granted the petitioner a new hearing before a Securities and Exchange Commission Administrative Law Judge after finding a violation of the Appointments Clause. However, the Court has yet to provide a concrete definition for the phrase.

This Note seeks to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive framework to assess the timeliness of these constitutional challenges. It begins by tracing the doctrinal evolution from its origin in Ryder v. United States to its present iteration. Coupled with Court’s discretionary approach to nonjurisdictional constitutional issues raised in the first instance on appeal, this Note argues that review by a constitutionally valid officer is necessary to extinguish the timeliness of a challenge. This reasoning draws upon the Court’s treatment of the de facto officer and de facto validity doctrines in the Appointments Clause context and tests it in the context of a hypothetical SEC proceeding.

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