WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) - A federal appeals court said Friday that President Obama overstepped
his authority with a series of recess appointments to the National Labor
The case may wind up in the Supreme Court and
determine how far the president can go in appointing people whose
nominations would otherwise be blocked by the Senate.
could affect the standing of other Obama recess appointees, such as the
head of the president's new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the
administration "respectfully but strongly" disagrees with the court's
ruling, arguing that it ran counter to precedents dating back 150 years.
Justice Department also criticized the court's decision. "We disagree
with the court's ruling and believe that the President's recess
appointments are constitutionally sound," a department spokesperson
Administration officials indicated they would appeal the
decision, and predicted they would win similar cases pending before
"This is one case in one court," said Carney.
legal briefs, Obama said his recess appointments were legal because the
Senate was on vacation at the time. The president has authority to make
temporary appointments without Senate approval if the Senate is not in
But Republican senators who joined in a lawsuit
said the chamber stayed in a "pro forma" session during the time in
question, denying Obama the right to make recess appointments and the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed with them. In these "pro
forma" sessions, a senator would gavel an empty chamber to order every
few days and then recess again.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah,
said today's decision "will go a long way toward restoring the
constitutional separation of powers," while Senate Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell, R-Ky., said the decision "reaffirmed that the Constitution
is not an inconvenience but the law of the land."
Senate Republicans had blocked Obama's appointees to the National Labor Relations Board, calling them too pro-union.
It's not known whether the Supreme Court will step into this White House-Congress dispute.
As it stands now, the decision invalidates hundreds of decisions made over the past year by the National Labor Relations Board.
Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation, released a
statement calling the court's decision "a victory for independent-minded
On Jan. 4, 2012 the same day he
appointed Cordray Obama appointed Deputy Labor Secretary Sharon Block,
union lawyer Richard Griffin and NLRB counsel Terence Flynn to fill
vacancies on labor relations board those are the appointments in
The Cordray appointment is still under challenge in a separate case pending before the appeals court.
Boyden Gray, a former White House counsel to President George H. W.
Bush, said in a statement that one key takeaway from today's decision is
that the president "has no power to declare when a recess exists" as he
said Obama did with the appointment of Cordray and the NLRB board