Federal Judge Pauses Case as Supreme Court Considers Similar Case

Federal Judge Pauses Case as Supreme Court Considers Similar Case
December 29, 2023

A Federal judge in Washington D.C. has delayed considering a case concerning the United States Department of Labor (DOL). This case determines whether the DOL can assess penalties when a violation of a temporary visa occurs, such as H-2B visas. 

The delay is because the judge is waiting on the Supreme Court. According to the case, the Supreme Court must decide whether federal agencies can manage their own enforcement proceedings. The delayed case involves a challenge brought by a landscaping company against the DOL. The landscaping company is challenging the constitutionality of the internal administrative hearings conducted by the DOL. 

The United States Supreme Court is making a similar decision in another case. The Supreme Court will decide whether internal hearings conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are constitutional. As such, the Federal judge hearing the case with the landscaping company is waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision. 

The case under the Supreme Court’s review will decide whether the SEC violated the plaintiff’s right. In this case, the right is to have a jury trial as guaranteed by the Seventh Amendment. In May 2022, the Fifth Circuit ruled that the internal courts of the SEC violated the Constitution. However, in June, the Supreme Court granted a petition for a writ of certiorari by the SEC. 

In its case, the landscaping company challenged the constitutional authority of the DOL. The power concerns the Department’s ability to assess civil penalties for visa program violations through its internal adjudication process. The DOJ ordered the company to pay penalties and back wages to the H-2B workers. 

However, the plaintiff argued that the government took on the roles of judge, prosecutor, and jury. This action deprived the company of its constitutional right to have a jury trial. The landscaping company also claimed that a jury did not find facts to support the DOL’s decision. Furthermore, the adjudicatory procedures used violated the Seventh Amendment.

The DOL and the landscaping company made a joint statement earlier in November. They said the Supreme Court’s decision on a similar case could affect theirs. As such, they informed the court of their desire to delay their case until the Supreme Court issued its decision.

The decisions in these cases may affect many parties, regardless of what it becomes. These decisions will significantly affect H-2B workers and their employers. Interested parties must wait to see if the Supreme Court declares internal enforcement proceedings by federal agencies are unconstitutional.

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