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SEC v. Jarkesy

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By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

As reported in the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 27, 2023, this Wednesday the Supreme Court will hear arguments in SEC v. Jarkesy. This has to do with administrative powers to penalize individuals for violating securities laws.  

What is at stake here is the right to a jury trial along with the proper presentation of evidence and witnesses.  

The specific argument here is Mr. Jarkesy’s 7th Amendment right to a trial by jury has been violated. For the sake of each of us, let’s hope Mr. Jarkesy wins.

Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and perhaps even before, unelected bureaucrats have been administering rules, fines and enforcement actions in violation of the 7th Amendment. Often these unelected bureaucrats and regulators violate the 4th Amendment as well, which reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This violation can happen when a county extension agent visits your property and notices something not related to the visit, that may be an excursion from the law. Bureaucrats in recent times have repeatedly violated the 4th Amendment when it comes to the internet and cell phones.

In the early 1970s, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration came into being. They started knocking on business doors, finding violations and imposing fines. At the time, I was just starting my career, but I asked those in charge why they were letting these bureaucrats in without a search warrant.  

The answer I often received was that “we want to be nice to them.” As usual, appeasement didn’t work. Look at how these agencies tromp over companies and individuals now.

Like all dictators – and that is what they are – these bureaucrats given an inch have taken a mile. Now there are 50-plus years of precedent backing up these anti-Fourth Amendment behaviors. Which are closely followed, as in Mr. Jarkesy’s case, with findings and fines not adjudicated in accordance with the 7th Amendment.

Some will argue we live in a republic; others may say we live in a democracy. I say both are wrong. We live in a dictatorship. It is not the old-fashioned type of dictatorship with one leader, it has many leaders ensconced in all the various bureaucracies. 

It is more like the novel “1984.” This novel focuses on the loss of free speech, a loss which is in abundance everywhere today (even UNESCO, which the Biden Administration recently rejoined, is trying to limit free speech worldwide).  

However, we have lost many other freedoms to unelected bureaucrats. Let’s wish Mr. Jarkesy well. Perhaps this can be the beginning of a turnaround and the opening for restoring freedom.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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