Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court ducks decision on whether president has the power to fire any top federal official

Supreme Court ducks decision on whether president has the power to fire any top federal official

The Supreme Court sidestepped a constitutional dispute Thursday over the scope of the president’s power to fire high-level federal employees.

Instead, by a 7-2 vote, the court ruled administrative law judges who hear stock fraud cases at the Securities and Exchange Commission are “officers” of the United States, not civil servants, because they exercise “significant authority.” That means they must be named by top political appointees, the court said, not hired by other judges tasked by the agency to select them based on merit.

The court brushed aside a request from Trump administration lawyers to broadly declare the president has power to fire any federal official with...

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