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When President Obama appointed members to the National Labor Relations Board as recess appointment while the Senate was still in session, Republicans and conservatives cried foul.
They were right:
In a case freighted with major constitutional implications, a federal appeals court on Friday overturned President Obama’s controversial recess appointments from last year, ruling he abused his powers and acted when the Senate was not actually in a recess.
The three-judge panel’s ruling is a major blow to Mr. Obama. The judges ruled that the appointments Mr. Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board are illegal, and the board no longer has a quorum to operate.
But the ruling has even broader constitutional significance, with the judges arguing that the president’s recess appointment powers don’t apply to “intrasession” appointments — those made when Congress has left town for a few days or weeks.
That’s a big ruling.
And a good one.
After all, we don’t have a king, despite what this administration thinks:
The Obama administration argued that they should be able to determine when, in their opinion, the Senate is in recess. The judges would have none of it:
An interpretation of “the Recess” that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law. The intersession interpretation of “the Recess” is the only one faithful to the Constitution’s text, structure, and history.
Back in the box, Washington. The Constitution still has some teeth, it seems.