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Abstract

Changes in enforcement can move in more than one direction: enforcement can increase significantly as the Securities and Exchange Commission saw in the aftermath of the accounting scandals or the Madoff Ponzi scheme, and decrease precipitously, as evidenced at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney. There is no reason in constitutional or administrative law to treat changes in enforcement policy differently depending on whether enforcement increases or decreases. Policy choices raise similar questions about reviewability and accountability, regardless of whether they increase or decrease enforcement. They also raise symmetrical questions about fair notice and due process and about the separation of powers. We demand that agencies give reasons for changes in rules; reason giving seems appropriate for significant shifts in enforcement, in order to match given reasons with observed enforcement practices, and to subject those reasons to political scrutiny through media coverage and congressional attention, even when judicial review is not available or appropriate.

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