By pushing through its controversial independent chairman rule in the final hours of former chairman William H. Donaldson's tenure last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission jeopardized its power going forward, according to a leading law scholar.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has filed two lawsuits against the SEC over the rule. In the first suit, the Chamber argued that the SEC overstepped its authority by ordering the rule, which calls for mutual funds to have boards composed of 75% independent directors and a chairman of the board who is an independent director. The courts ruled in favor of the SEC, but also found that it didn't conduct sufficient cost/benefit analysis and ordered the regulator to further examine whether the governance benefits of the rule truly outweighed the costs mutual fund companies would have to bear.

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