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Ruling on PCAOB’s constitutionality on the horizon

Court The battle over financial reform promises to be ... well, interesting, to say the least.

It'll get downright crazy if the Supreme Court steps in.

The folks at the AICPA report that a nearly 4-year-old battle over the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board may culminate soon with a decision from the United States Supreme Court.

The original lawsuit, filed in February 2006 on behalf of the Free Enterprise Fund, claimed that the PCAOB was unconstitutional because its members are not appointed by the president or confirmed by the Senate, "which is the process that many other (but not all) agencies use for their appointees," according to the AICPA. In August 2008, an appeals court ruled that the PCAOB is, indeed, constitutional, but less than a year later the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

It's a perfect storm of sorts, isn't it? Here we have Congress preparing to rewrite the rules that govern our financial system. Now imagine the Supreme Court interrupting that debate by telling us, "Hey, remember the Sarbanes-Oxley Act? Part of it is unconstitutional. We're scrapping the PCAOB and starting from scratch."

Now that would be fun ... by which I mean not fun at all.

That's a worst-case scenario, of course. There's no word yet on what the odds are of such a ruling. The AICPA's intrepid regulatory folks are on the case and will alert us when a ruling is made and what it means. We'll alert you shortly thereafter.

Stay tuned.


Bill Sheridan