Davis v. Saul

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Administrative Law
  • Date Filed: November 9, 2020
  • Case #: 20-105
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 963 F.3d 790 (8th Cir. 2019).
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether a claimant seeking disability benefits or supplemental security income under the Social Security Act must exhaust an Appointments Clause challenge with the administrative law judge whose appointment the claimant is challenging in order to obtain judicial review of that challenge.

Petitioners, Social Security claimants, were individually denied supplemental security income and disability insurance benefits by an administrative law judge (ALJ). After their administrative appeals were also unsuccessful, each Petitioner filed in federal court and argued for the first time that, in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Lucia v. SEC, the ALJs who conducted their hearings were improperly appointed. 138 S. Ct. 2044 (2018). The federal courts of appeals affirmed the benefits determinations. Although the government does not dispute the ALJs were improperly appointed, the courts expressly rejected the challenge to the Appointments Clause because it had been forfeited when it was not raised before the Appeals Counsel or the ALJ. Petitioners argue that there is no legitimate reason for an issue-exhaustion requirement that precludes judicial review for a fundamental structural defect found in administrative proceedings. Petitioner further argues that the requirement cannot be defended and is inequitable.

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