“The Supreme Court seemed reluctant Tuesday to grant the Securities and Exchange Commission greater leeway in seeking penalties against companies that commit fraud.
Justices across the ideological spectrum suggested that the government was asking for too much in its reading of a statute that sets time limits on when regulatory agencies can file civil complaints.
The law says the actions must be filed within five years of the violation, but the government contends that in fraud cases, that means five years from the time an agency discovered, or should have discovered, a violation.
Justice Antonin Scalia said that was a “brand new” government claim that has no grounding in the court’s precedents. “What’s extraordinary is that the government has never asserted this, except in the 19th century, when it was rebuffed and repudiated its position,” he said.”
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