July 27, 2018

Warren, Colleagues Move to Block Politicization of Administrative Law Judges

Amendment Would Prevent Implementation of Trump Executive Order Removing ALJs from Competitive Service

Amendment Text (PDF)

Washington, DC - United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.), filed an amendment to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act to block the implementation of President Trump's executive order that eliminates merit-based standards for administrative law judges (ALJs) and lowers the qualifications required of ALJs during their selection process.  The Senators' amendment would prevent the politicization of ALJs and protect their impartiality. 

"When Americans bring claims before the federal government, it is critical that they receive fair hearings from qualified, independent, and impartial administrative law judges," Senator Warren said.  "President Trump's executive order politicizes the selection of administrative law judges and undermines the impartiality of their decisions.  I am glad to partner with my colleagues on an amendment to block this harmful executive order and ensure integrity and fairness in our administrative courts."

In early July, President Trump issued an executive order requiring ALJs to be selected by agency heads and exempting them from the merit-based hiring process known as the "competitive service." This policy risks politicizing ALJs, who conduct hearings at a wide variety of federal agencies over disputes often related to claims for benefits or enforcement actions by an agency, and jeopardizes the impartiality of decisions important to retirees and workers across the country, such as those regarding eligibility for Social Security benefits.

The Senators' amendment would amend the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act to prohibit federal funds from being used for any executive order, rule, or guidance that would remove ALJs from the competitive service.

The amendment is supported by the AFL-CIO, American Association for Justice, American Bar Association, Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Social Security Task Force, Federal Administrative Law Judges Conference, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR), Social Security Works and the Strengthen Social Security Coalition. 

A similar amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives this month by Congressmen Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and David Cicilline (D-R.I.).