Supreme Court Decision Does Not Affect PCAOB Operations

Published on: 29 Jun 2010

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion in a case that challenged the constitutionality of the PCAOB. In a narrow decision, the Court struck as unconstitutional the provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that noted that PCAOB members could be removed only for cause.

The Court expressly stated in its opinion that the PCAOB can continue to function. Going forward, however, the SEC, which appoints PCAOB members, will be able to remove PCAOB members at will. The decision will have no impact on the day-to-day operations of the PCAOB, and the opinion does not affect the constitutionality of the remainder of Sarbanes-Oxley.

The SEC issued a statement yesterday, noting that “the Board’s operations may continue and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, with the Board’s tenure restrictions excised, remains fully in effect.” The SEC also asserted that the “opinion does not call into question any action taken by the PCAOB since its inception.” In a statement of its own, the PCAOB noted that “all PCAOB programs will continue to operate as usual, including registration, inspection, enforcement, and standard-setting activities.”

The case, Free Enterprise Fund and Beckstead & Watts LLP v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, has been making its way through the legal system since 2006, and this is the final decision in this case on the constitutionality of the PCAOB.

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