In a case that could have far-reaching effects on every single public company’s auditing and accounting practices—or, even more broadly, on the shape of present and future federal regulatory schemes—the Supreme Court heard oral arguments this past Monday, December 7, 2009, in Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, Docket No. 08-861. The petitioning plaintiffs in this case are challenging the constitutionality of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which was created in 2002, as part of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, in response to scandals at Enron, Worldcom, and other companies. The purpose of the Board, which is appointed and controlled by the Securities and Exchange Commission, is to oversee public company auditors and auditing practices, conduct investigations, and, on finding any improper activity, impose sanctions.
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