Court Rules Obama's Appointments to Labor Board as Unconstitutional
Jan 25, 2013 12:41 PM EST
A federal appeals court panel ruled Friday that President Obama violated the Constitution in making certain recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board and moved to curtail a chief executive's ability in the future to circumvent the Senate in similar situations.
The ruling came Friday from a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Business groups challenged last year's recess appointments to the NLRB, the National Labor Relations Board, and the court ruled today in their favor.
The Obama administration is almost certain to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court. But if the ruling stands, it strengthens the power of the Senate's Republican minority at the expense of Obama and the Democrats.
The three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012 were made while the Senate was out of town but potentially available to act on them.
"Considering the text, history, and structure of the Constitution, these appointments were invalid from their inception," the panel said.
Obama also used such a "recess" appointment last January to install Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, although his appointment was not part of the lawsuit.
In Friday's decision, Chief Judge David Sentelle ruled for the challengers and said a "recess" refers to the break when Congress formally adjourns after a two-year session.
"An interpretation of 'the Recess' that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law," said Sentelle, an appointee of President Reagan, according to Reuters.