Judges slap down Obama 'recess appointments.' Case headed to Supreme Court?
President Obama's appointments to the labor-relations board were unconstitutional because they bypassed the Senate, a court ruled Friday. Recess appointments have been a tactic of both parties.
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It’s now possible that many NLRB rulings made over the past year could be invalidated since, according to the court’s ruling, the board would not have had the requisite three of five members necessary to authorize rulings. The court ruling also calls into question the appointment of Democratic lawyer Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which Obama made the same day as the NLRB appointments last January. The president reappointed Mr. Cordray Thursday.Skip to next paragraph
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“Cordray’s appointment allowed the bureau – whose processes and decisions are largely immune from congressional or judicial oversight – to issue a series of regulations on the financial sector that subordinate their profit-seeking goals to the federal government’s political goals,” says The Daily Caller news and opinion website. “Friday’s court decision suggests that Cordray’s appointment may be ruled invalid, likely triggering another set of lawsuits against the bureau’s regulations and rules.”
Friday's decision has cheered opponents of Obama’s appointments and other actions regarding labor and consumer issues.
“The court's decision ... is a victory for independent-minded workers who have received unjust treatment at the hands of the pro-Big Labor NLRB and will hopefully serve as a persuasive example to other federal courts deciding on the validity of Obama's purported recess appointments,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which had filed an amicus brief in the case, Noel Canning v. NLRB.
“This decision now casts serious doubt on whether the President’s ‘recess’ appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ... is constitutional,” Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Friday.
“It contradicts 150 years of practice by Democratic and Republican administrations. So we respectfully but strongly disagree with the ruling,” he said.
“Today’s circuit court decision is not only a radical departure from precedent; it ignores the fact that President Obama had no choice but to act,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D) of Iowa, according to AP. “Throughout his presidency, Republicans have employed unprecedented partisan delay tactics and filibusters to prevent confirmation of nominees to lead the NLRB, thus crippling the board’s legal authority to act.”
Obama is far from alone in relying on recess appointments to conduct administration business absent Senate cooperation.
As president, Mr. Bush made 171 recess appointments during his eight years in the White House. President Clinton made 139. Theodore Roosevelt made 160 such appointments – 193, according to some accounts – in a single day in 1903.
The White House is expected to appeal Friday’s ruling, which could reach the US Supreme Court.