A U.S. appeals court has ruled that President Barack Obama violated the
U.S. Constitution when he used recess appointments to fill a labor
The court ruled Friday that the Senate was not actually in recess when
the president appointed three members to the National Labor Relations
Board in January 2012.
The court ruling could jeopardize hundreds of NLRB decisions made over
the past year, including some that have made it easier for unions to
Mr. Obama has said his appointments were appropriate because the Senate
was on a holiday recess.
Republicans have said the Senate had not formally adjourned, even though
most of its members were out of town. They say the president wanted to
undercut the Senate's power to confirm nominees.
The appeals court ruled the Senate had technically remained open in pro
forma sessions, in which a lone member can gavel in and then immediately
gavel out. The court said the pro forma sessions were valid. The White
House has argued the pro forma sessions were a sham.
White House spokesman Jay Carney denounced the court's decision Friday
as "novel and unprecedented." He said the ruling "contradicts 150 years
of practice by Democratic and Republican administrations."
case has been seen as a test of the president's ability to bypass the
confirmation process in the Senate, whose members have the
constitutionally enshrined power to block nominees.
Legal experts expect the White House will challenge the ruling rendered
by judges appointed by Republican presidents, and the case could go to
the Supreme Court. President Obama is a Democrat.
The ruling also throws into question the legitimacy of President Obama's
recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau. Cordray's appointment, made at the same time as the
NLRB appointments, has been challenged in a separate case.