CARR et al. v. SAUL, COMMISSIONER OF SOCIAL SECURITY
Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Tenth Circuit
No. 19–1442. Argued March 3, 2021—Decided April 22, 2021 1
Petitioners are six individuals whose applications for disability benefits were denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA). They each unsuccessfully challenged their respective adverse benefit determination in a hearing before an SSA administrative law judge (ALJ). The SSA Appeals Council denied discretionary review in each case. Thereafter, this Court decided Lucia v. SEC, 585 U. S. ___, which held that the appointment of Securities and Exchange Commission ALJs by lower level staff violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. Because the SSA ALJs who denied petitioners’ claims were also appointed by lower level staff, petitioners argued in federal court that they were entitled to a fresh administrative review by constitutionally appointed ALJs. In each case, the Court of Appeals held that petitioners could not obtain judicial review of their Appointments Clause claims because they failed to raise those challenges in their administrative proceedings.
Held: The Courts of Appeals erred in imposing an issue-exhaustion requirement on petitioners’ Appointments Clause claims. Pp. 4–12.
(a) Administrative review schemes commonly require parties to give the agency an opportunity to address an issue before seeking judicial review of that question. Such administrative issue-exhaustion requirements are typically creatures of statute or regulation. But where, as here, no statute or regulation imposes an issue-exhaustion requirement, courts decide whether to require issue exhaustion based on “an analogy to the rule that appellate courts will not consider arguments not raised before trial courts.” Sims v. Apfel, 530 U. S. 103, 109. “[T]he desirability of a court imposing a requirement of issue exhaustion depends on the degree to which the analogy to normal adversarial litigation applies in a particular administrative proceeding.” Ibid. In Sims, which declined to apply an issue-exhaustion requirement to SSA Appeals Council proceedings, the Court explained that “the rationale for requiring issue exhaustion is at its greatest” when “the parties are expected to develop the issues in an adversarial administrative proceeding,” but is “much weaker” when “an administrative proceeding is not adversarial.” Id., at 110. Although Sims dealt with administrative review before the SSA Appeals Council, much of the opinion’s rationale applies equally to SSA ALJ proceedings. Pp. 4–8.
(b) Even assuming that ALJ proceedings are comparatively more adversarial than Appeals Council proceedings, the question remains whether the ALJ proceedings here were adversarial enough to support the “analogy to judicial proceedings” that undergirds judicially created issue-exhaustion requirements. Sims, 530 U. S., at 112 (plurality opinion). Pp. 8–12.
(1) In the specific context of petitioners’ Appointments Clause challenges, two considerations tip the scales decidedly against imposing an issue-exhaustion requirement. First, agency adjudications are generally ill suited to address structural constitutional challenges, which usually fall outside the adjudicators’ areas of technical expertise. See, e.g., Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Bd., 561 U. S. 477, 491. Second, this Court has consistently recognized a futility exception to exhaustion requirements. See, e.g., Bethesda Hospital Assn. v. Bowen, 485 U. S. 399, 405–406. Both considerations apply fully here: Petitioners assert purely constitutional claims about which SSA ALJs have no special expertise and for which they can provide no relief. United States v. L. A. Tucker Truck Lines, Inc., 344 U. S. 33, distinguished. Pp. 9–11.
(2) The Commissioner’s contention that petitioners cannot obtain new hearings because they did not “timely challenge” their adjudicators’ appointments presumes what the Commissioner has failed to prove: that petitioners’ challenges are, in fact, untimely. The Commissioner’s reliance on Ryder v. United States, 515 U. S. 177, and Lucia, 585 U. S. ___, is misplaced, as neither decision had occasion to opine on what would constitute a “timely” objection in an administrative review scheme like the SSA’s. Pp. 11–12.
961 F. 3d 1267 and 963 F. 3d 790, reversed and remanded.
Sotomayor, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Alito, Kagan, and Kavanaugh, JJ., joined, in which Thomas, Gorsuch, and Barrett, JJ., joined as to Parts I, II–A, and II–B–2, and in which Breyer, J., joined as to Parts I, II–B–1, and II–B–2. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, in which Gorsuch and Barrett, JJ., joined. Breyer, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
1 Together with No. 20–105, Davis et al. v. Saul, Commissioner of Social Security, on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.
AMG Capital Management, LLC, et al. v. Federal Trade Commission
Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit
No. 19–508. Argued January 13, 2021—Decided April 22, 2021
The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint against Scott Tucker and his companies alleging deceptive payday lending practices in violation of §5(a) of the Federal Trade Commission Act. The District Court granted the Commission’s request pursuant to §13(b) of the Act for a permanent injunction to prevent Tucker from committing future violations of the Act, and relied on the same authority to direct Tucker to pay $1.27 billion in restitution and disgorgement. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit rejected Tucker’s argument that §13(b) does not authorize the award of equitable monetary relief.
Held: Section 13(b) does not authorize the Commission to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement. Pp. 3–15.
(a) Congress granted the Commission authority to enforce the Act’s prohibitions on “unfair or deceptive acts or practices,” 15 U. S. C. §§45(a)(1)–(2), by commencing administrative proceedings pursuant to §5 of the Act. Section 5(l) of the Act authorizes the Commission, following completion of the administrative process and the issuance of a final cease and desist order, to seek civil penalties, and permits district courts to “grant mandatory injunctions and such other and further equitable relief as they deem appropriate in the enforcement of such final orders of the Commission.” §45(l). Section 19 of the Act further authorizes district courts (subject to various conditions and limitations) to grant “such relief as the court finds necessary to redress injury to consumers,” §57b(b), in cases where someone has engaged in unfair or deceptive conduct with respect to which the Commission has issued a final cease and desist order applicable to that person, see §57b(a)(2). Here, the Commission responded to Tucker’s payday lending practices by seeking equitable monetary relief directly in district court under §13(b)’s authorization to seek a “permanent injunction.” In doing so, the Commission acted in accordance with its increasing tendency to use §13(b) to seek monetary awards without prior use of the Commission’s traditional administrative proceedings. The desirability of the Commission’s practice aside, the question is whether Congress, by enacting §13(b) and using the words “permanent injunction,” granted the Commission authority to obtain monetary relief directly from courts and effectively bypass the requirements of the administrative process. Pp. 3–6.
(b) Section 13(b) does not explicitly authorize the Commission to obtain court-ordered monetary relief, and such relief is foreclosed by the structure and history of the Act. Section 13(b) provides that the “Commission may seek . . . a permanent injunction.” §53(b). By its terms, this provision concerns prospective injunctive relief, not retrospective monetary relief. Section 13(b) allows the Commission to go directly to district court when the Commission seeks injunctive relief pending administrative proceedings or when it seeks only a permanent injunction. Other statutory provisions, in particular the conditioned and limited monetary relief authorized in §19, confirm this conclusion. It is highly unlikely that Congress, without mentioning the matter, would grant the Commission authority to circumvent its traditional §5 administrative proceedings. Pp. 6–10.
(c) The Commission’s contrary arguments are unavailing. First, Porter v. Warner Holding Co., 328 U. S. 395, and Mitchell v. Robert DeMario Jewelry, Inc., 361 U. S. 288, did not adopt a universal rule that statutory authority to grant an injunction automatically encompasses the power to grant equitable monetary remedies. Instead, the text and structure of the particular statutory scheme at issue can limit a court’s jurisdiction in equity. Second, in enacting §19 two years after §13(b), Congress did not simply create an alternative enforcement path with similar remedies. The Court does not believe Congress would have enacted §19’s provisions expressly authorizing monetary relief if §13(b) already implicitly allowed the Commission to obtain that same monetary relief without satisfying §19’s conditions and limitations. Third, §19’s saving clauses—preserving “any authority of the Commission under any other provision of law” and “any other remedy or right of action provided by State or Federal law,” §57b(e)—do not help answer whether §13(b) gave the Commission the authority to obtain equitable monetary relief directly in court in the first place. Fourth, the Act’s 1994 and 2006 amendments, which did not modify the specific language at issue here, do not demonstrate congressional acquiescence to lower court rulings that favor the Commission’s interpretation of §13(b). Fifth, policy arguments that §5 and §19 are inadequate to provide redress to consumers should be addressed to Congress. Pp. 10–14.
910 F. 3d 417, reversed and remanded.
Breyer, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
JONES v. MISSISSIPPI
Certiorari To The Court Of Appeals Of Mississippi
No. 18–1259. Argued November 3, 2020—Decided April 22, 2021
A Mississippi jury convicted petitioner Brett Jones of murder for killing his grandfather. Jones was 15 years old when he committed the crime. Under Mississippi law at the time, murder carried a mandatory sentence of life without parole. The trial judge duly imposed that sentence, which was affirmed on direct appeal. This Court subsequently decided Miller v. Alabama, 567 U. S. 460, which held that the Eighth Amendment permits a life-without-parole sentence for a defendant who committed a homicide when he or she was under 18, but only if the sentence is not mandatory and the sentencer therefore has discretion to impose a lesser punishment. In the wake of that decision, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered that Jones be resentenced in accordance with Miller. At the resentencing, the sentencing judge acknowledged that he had discretion under Miller to impose a sentence less than life without parole. The judge determined, however, that life without parole remained the appropriate sentence for Jones. Jones again appealed his sentence, citing both Miller and the then-recently decided case of Montgomery v. Louisiana, 577 U. S. 190, which held that Miller applied retroactively on collateral review. Jones contended that, under Miller and Montgomery, a sentencer must make a separate factual finding that a murderer under 18 is permanently incorrigible before sentencing the offender to life without parole. The Mississippi Court of Appeals rejected Jones’s argument.
Held: In the case of a defendant who committed a homicide when he or she was under 18, Miller and Montgomery do not require the sentencer to make a separate factual finding of permanent incorrigibility before sentencing the defendant to life without parole. In such a case, a discretionary sentencing system is both constitutionally necessary and constitutionally sufficient. Pp. 5–22.
(1) A sentencer need not make a separate factual finding of permanent incorrigibility before sentencing a murderer under 18 to life without parole. In Miller, the Court mandated “only that a sentencer follow a certain process—considering an offender’s youth and attendant characteristics—before imposing” a life-without-parole sentence. 567 U. S., at 483. And in Montgomery, the Court stated that “a finding of fact regarding a child’s incorrigibility . . . is not required.” 577 U. S., at 211. Miller and Montgomery require consideration of an offender’s youth but not any particular factual finding. Miller and Montgomery therefore refute Jones’s argument that a finding of permanent incorrigibility is constitutionally necessary. Pp. 5–14.
(2) Nor must a sentencer provide an on-the-record sentencing explanation with an “implicit finding” of permanent incorrigibility before sentencing a murderer under 18 to life without parole. An on-the-record sentencing explanation is not necessary to ensure that a sentencer considers a defendant’s youth. Nor is an on-the-record sentencing explanation required by or consistent with Miller or Montgomery, neither of which said anything about a sentencing explanation. Pp. 14–19.
(3) The Court’s decision does not disturb Miller’s holding (that a State may not impose a mandatory life-without-parole sentence on a murderer under 18) or Montgomery’s holding (that Miller applies retroactively on collateral review). The resentencing in Jones’s case complied with Miller and Montgomery because the sentencer had discretion to impose a sentence less than life without parole in light of Jones’s youth. The Court’s decision today should not be construed as agreement or disagreement with Jones’s sentence. In addition, the Court’s decision does not preclude the States from imposing additional sentencing limits in cases involving murderers under 18. Nor does the Court’s decision prohibit Jones from presenting his moral and policy arguments against his life-without-parole sentence to the state officials who are authorized to act on those arguments. Pp. 19–22.
285 So. 3d 626, affirmed.
Kavanaugh, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., Alito, Gorsuch, and Barrett, JJ., joined. Thomas, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Breyer and Kagan, JJ., joined.