An L.A. Times article — the same one I criticized earlier today, asserts that the President can’t fire an SEC Chairman:
On Thursday, [McCain] said he’d fire the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Christopher Cox [if McCain were President]. (A president appoints but can’t fire an SEC chief, though he can apply pressure to resign. The White House said President Bush had confidence in Cox.)
Via Jonathan V. Last at the Weekly Standard comes a link to a federal court decision that certainly seems to say otherwise. The case is Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 537 F.3d 667, 668-69 (D.C. Cir. 2008), and here is the relevant quote:
“Members of the [Securities and Exchange] Commission, in turn, are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate and subject to removal by the President for cause; its chairman is selected by and serves at the pleasure of the President.”
Last’s correspondent adds:
The courts have never said that Congress can completely prevent a president from firing officials of an independent agency. At best, Congress can limit the president to firing such officials only “for cause,” and the term “for cause” is generally interpreted pretty broadly.
This one may be worth an e-mail to the Readers’ Rep.
What do these reporters do — just listen to what the Obama campaign claims, and take it at face value?
Don’t answer that.
UPDATE: Jake Tapper says the President can’t fire the SEC Commissioner. Jake Tapper, I love ya, man. But as between you and the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, I’m going with the judges on this one.
UPDATE x2: I e-mailed Tapper about this, and he says he’ll look into it. Meanwhile, you may read a more fleshed-out argument that the President may fire the SEC Chair, here.