Securities law professor analyzes the SEC’s crypto crackdown: Part 1

Quick Take

  • Former SEC advisor Professor J.W. Verret explains how the ‘major questions doctrine’ could put an end to SEC Chair Gensler’s regulation by enforcement.

Episode 58 of Season 5 of The Scoop was recorded with The Block's Frank Chaparro and Associate Professor of Law at George Mason Law School and former Advisory Committee Member to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission J.W. Verret.

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Professor J.W. Verret teaches corporate and securities law and financial accounting at George Mason Law School.

From May 2018 to March 2022, Professor Verret served as an Advisory Committee Member to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission where he represented the interests of investors in making recommendations to SEC Chair Gensler and other Commissioners.

In part one of this two part interview, Verret explains how a principle of administrative law in the United States known as the 'major questions doctrine' could challenge the SEC's use of the Howey Test to determine if an asset is a security under federal law.

According to Verret, the major questions doctrine is a way for the court to check the power of independent agencies:


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"If Congress has not given you specific authority to regulate a thing as an agency and you're seeking to regulate it, if it involves a major question of national, economic or political importance, then you need to get authorization from Congress before you do anything."

The major questions doctrine will likely not be discussed until the SEC's lawsuits against Coinbase and Binance.US reach the appellate courts, says Verret, "but it's one of the things that looms over these cases, without a doubt."

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About Authors

Davis Quinton is the Director of Podcasts at The Block and runs our flagship podcast called The Scoop, hosted by Frank Chaparro. Since joining The Block as an 'intern' in early 2022, he has worked closely with leaders across departments to translate The Block's written content into engaging multimedia formats. He holds a degree in Social Research & Public Policy from New York University in Abu Dhabi and is based in Sydney, Australia.
Frank Chaparro is Host of The Scoop podcast and Director of Special Projects. He also writes a biweekly newsletter. Chaparro started his career at Business Insider, where he specialized in the intersection of digital assets and Wall Street, market structure, and financial technology. Soon after joining Business Insider out of Fordham University, Chaparro was interviewing top finance and tech executives, including billionaire Mark Cuban, “Flash Boys” star Brad Katsuyama, Cboe Global Markets CEO Ed Tilly, and New York Stock Exchange President Tom Farley. In 2018, he become a sought after reporter in the crypto world, interviewing luminaries such as Tyler Winklevoss, the cofounder of Gemini, Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, and Fundstrat head Tom Lee. For inquiries or tips, email [email protected].


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Tim Copeland at
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