FoxNews reports that The Supreme Court delivered a blow Thursday to President Obama, ruling that he went too far in making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
In a unanimous decision, the high court sided with Senate Republicans and limited the president’s power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments. It was the first-ever Supreme Court test involving the long-standing practice of presidents naming appointees when the Senate is on break.
In this case, Obama had argued that the Senate was on an extended holiday break when he filled slots at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2012. He argued the brief sessions it held every three days were a sham that was intended to prevent him from filling the seats.
The Constitution’s recess-appointments clause says, “The president shall have power to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate.” –NY Times
In a unanimous decision, Miguel Estrada, a lawyer for Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said the decision was a victory for the Senate and the separation of powers. “The Supreme Court reaffirmed the Senate’s power to prescribe its own rules, including the right to determine for itself when it is in session, and rejected the president’s completely unprecedented assertion of unilateral appointment power,” he said.
Back in 2011, Sens. David Vitter, R-La, and Jim DeMint, R-S.C. organized a letter from 20 GOP senators urging House Speaker John Boehner to block any resolution allowing the Senate to recess for more than three days.
Vitter was upfront about his rationale. He wanted to block Democratic President Barack Obama from making recess appointments when the Senate was recessed.
And Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously, in effect, that the strategy outlined by Vitter and DeMint was valid — that the Senate really wasn’t in recess when the president used his recess appointment authority to name three members to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012.
On January 4, 2012, Obama announced recess appointments to three seats on the board: Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn, and Richard Griffin. The appointments were criticized by Republicans, including the House Speaker John Boehner, as unconstitutional and “a brazen attempt to undercut the role of the Senate to advise and consent the executive branch on appointments.”
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