Cooperman v. Social Security Administration


Question(s) Presented

“Petitioner, who was employed as an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) by Respondent, was the subject of removal proceedings for ‘conduct unbecoming of an ALJ.’ Petitioner asserted that such a charge was void for vagueness citing other federal circuit deci sions such as Bence v. Breier, 501 F. 2d 1185 (7th Cir. 1974). See also this Court’s decisions in Grayned v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104 (1972) and Airport Commission v. Jews for Jesus, 482 U.S. 569 (1987); as well as Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410 (2006) a case dealing with when it is permissible to circumscribe speech by public sector employees, and impose discipline upon them for it. His removal was also sought because he followed the Program Operations Manual System in resolving cases, which the Respondent contended he had no right to do.”

“The Questions Presented are:”

1. “Is the ‘conduct unbecoming’ standard for subjecting an employee to disciplinary proceedings unconstitutionally vague, and therefore violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution in a situation where free speech concerns are implicated?”

2. “Is an ALJ, employed by the Respondent, required to follow the Respondent’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS) and if so, does doing so insulate him from discipline for matters covered by the POMS?”

Proceedings and Orders
September 13, 2023
DISTRIBUTED for Conference of 10/6/2023.
October 10, 2023
Petition DENIED.