Aurelius Investment, LLC. v. Puerto Rico

Constitutional Violations Require Meaningful Remedies

Amicus Briefs > Separation of Powers > Aurelius Investment, LLC. v. Puerto Rico

This case asks whether Congress had the authority to create a board to bring bankruptcy-like proceedings on behalf of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The board’s membership is appointed without Senate confirmation even though the board exercises extremely broad authority. The First Circuit found that these appointments violated the Constitution’s Appointments Clause. However, it upheld all of the board’s prior actions under what is known as the “de facto officer doctrine.” It even concluded that the unlawfully constituted board could continue to operate for several months.

In our friend-of-the-court brief, PLF argues that the Supreme Court should reverse the First Circuit’s remedy analysis and hold that when a government agency is established in violation of the principle of the separation of powers, courts should not ratify the agency’s unlawful actions or continue to allow that agency to act without authority. The de facto officer doctrine cannot properly be applied in this context. PLF’s amicus brief emphasizes that without a meaningful remedy, litigants are much less likely to challenge violations of the separation of powers, allowing the government to continue to violate the Constitution.

Related Documents

PLF regularly participates as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in cases brought by others. This supplements our direct representation cases by providing judges with unique, strategic, and helpful arguments to consider when crafting their opinions in related cases

Aurelius Investment v. Commonwealth of PR - PLF AC Merits Brief

August 28, 2019 Download

What’s at stake?

  • Can someone who successfully challenges the authority of a government agency receive meaningful relief?
  • Under the First Circuit’s decision, litigants could prove that there are serious violations of the separation of powers and yet receive no relief from unlawful government action. They could even be required to follow future decisions of an agency that they have successfully challenged.

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