US President Donald Trump [official profile] signed an executive order [text] on Tuesday that changes the hiring process for administrative law judges (ALJs).
The order allows agencies to appoint ALJs and exempts the candidates from the “competitive examination and competitive service selection procedures.” Previously ALJs were hired [WP report] from a general list of qualified candidates.
Trump cited a recent Supreme Court decision [JURIST report], which held that ALJs were “officers of the law.” According to the order, the decision raised an issue of whether the competitive selection process was constitutional under the Appointments Clause because the process interfered with the discretion of the agency heads. The order reads:
Regardless of whether those procedures would violate the Appointments Clause as applied to certain ALJs, there are sound policy reasons to take steps to eliminate doubt regarding the constitutionality of the method of appointing officials who discharge such significant duties and exercise such significant discretion.
According to the Washington Post, critics worry that the order will make ALJs less impartial and the hiring process more politically motivated.