Previously, Administrative Law Judges were chosen through a long process put together by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Potential judges would take a bunch of examinations and were ranked based on score. Federal agencies could then interview the candidates with the highest scores (this is an over simplification but essentially right). That program had its issues. The process took forever and has produced some interesting choices of judges. However, it at least avoided having political leaders choose judges with agendas. President Trump has now announced that he’s getting rid of the process described above and will have the agency head pick the judges without input from OPM. In some ways, this will streamline the process, but many are worried that this is just the start of dismantling the independence of ALJs. If a president doesn’t believe in the disability system, he could just appoint hundreds of ALJs that he thinks will turn everyone down. I don’t think we’ll see any immediate changes due to this new policy. The current judges aren’t effected by this and it will take a long time for them to all retire and be replaced, but I do worry about the precedent.
Check out this article for more information. Link