The Obama Administration took another hit Thursday when the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that his NLRB recess appointments were lacking in Constitutional Authority.
The Court ruled that the recess appointment powers of the President were limited to high level vacant positions and those positions could be filled by the President as temporary appointments.
The Justices rejected Obama's assertions that the Senate was in recess when he made his appointments. The opinion states:
...we find that the pro forma sessions were sessions for purposes of the Clause. First,
the Senate said it was in session. The Journal of the Senate and the Congressional Record indicate that the Senate convened for a series of twice-weekly “sessions”
from December 20 through January 20. 2011 S. J. 923– 924; 158 Cong. Rec. S1–S11. (The Journal of the Senate for 2012 has not yet been published.) And these reports of
the Senate “must be assumed to speak the truth.” Ballin,
supra, at 4.
Second, the Senate’s rules make clear that during its pro forma sessions, despite its resolution that it would conduct no business, the Senate retained the power to conduct business. During any pro forma session, the Senate could have conducted business simply by passing a
unanimous consent agreement.
The Court also addressed political conflict regarding appointments:
....the Recess Appointments Clause is not designed to overcome serious institutional friction. It simply provides a subsidiary method for appointing officials when the Senate is away during a recess.
This Supreme Court opinion reaffirms a lower court ruling:
we conclude that the Recess Appointments Clause does not give the President the constitutional authority to make the appointments here at issue. Because the Court of
Appeals reached the same ultimate conclusion (though for reasons we reject), its judgment is affirmed.
It is so ordered.
The entire Opinion:
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