WASHINGTON D.C. – The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Obama’s recess appointments in 2012 were unconstitutional.
The president made four appointments — which included filling three vacancies on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — on Jan. 4, 2012. The problem: The Senate was in session.
Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, said that not even the progressive justices could defend Obama’s actions:
Not a single liberal justice could find a reason to uphold one of the prime examples of Obama’s overreach: his attempt to expand, beyond credulity, the President’s power to make recess appointments — by declaring that he, rather than the Senate, should determine when a recess occurs.
The case involves Noel Canning, a bottling company in Washington state. It also involves a local Teamsters union.
Noel Canning filed suit after NLRB favored the union. The company argued that the decision was invalid because Obama’s recess appointments to the labor board violated the Constitution.
The unanimity of today’s decision is, in one sense, “remarkable,” Levey said.
“Judges are generally reluctant to strike down an action by one of the three branches of government as a violation of the separation of powers, as the justices did today,” he explained. “The fact that the court ruled unanimously here, despite the typical reluctance, bodes well for current and future legal challenges to other instances of Obama administration overreach.”
In another sense, he said, the decision is not the surprising.
“Virtually all legal analysts assumed the NLRB recess appointments at issue would be found to be unconstitutional,” Levey explained. “The only question, including among the nine justices today — see Justice Scalia’s concurrence — was precisely what limits the Courts should put on the recess appointment power.”