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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 28, 2010, that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) violates the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers principle because board members are not appointed by the president.  In a 5-4 decision, the Court stated that the president must have more power to remove PCAOB members. The five-member board is appointed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after consultation with the Federal Reserve System’s chairman of the board of governors and the Secretary of the Treasury.


1.  How was the PCAOB originally established and why?

2.  Look at the ruling.  Which justices joined to support the ruling and which justices dissented?

3.  According to the sources listed, how do you think the ruling will affect the Board’s operations and why does Barry Melancon, president and CEO of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), see this as a victory for investors and for the accounting profession?

Supreme Court Opinion No. 08–861 (2010). Free Enterprise Fund versus Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, June 28 (Retrievable online at
Accounting WEB staff. (2010). UPDATE: Supreme Court Rules PCAOB Violates Constitution’s Separation of Powers Principle, Accounting WEB, June 28  (Retrievable online at