The Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia today has struck down President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last year.
On January 4, 2012, President Obama gave recess appointments to Sharon Block, Richard Griffin, and Terence Flynn to the NLRB. These positions require approval from the Senate.
However under the Constitution the president may appoint people during a congressional recess, and that temporary appointment will last for the remainder of the current session of Congress.
However, at the time of the appointments, the Senate was in pro forma session. The president claimed this pro forma session was considered a ‘recess’ under the Constitution and appointed the three people to the NLRB board, against the very strong opposition of Members of Congress. The Court’s ruling today strikes down President Obama’s claim and rules his recess appointments unconstitutional.
“I would like to thank the US Court of Appeals for their ruling today,” stated Westmoreland. “For far too long this president has circumvented the Constitution and side-stepped Congress any time he didn’t get his way. Today’s decision has rejected his ‘my way or the highway’ approach to government and will hopefully serve as a wake-up call to him and his staff that he cannot simply dictate the rule of law whether it violates the Constitution or not.”
In the decision in the case, Noel Canning v. National Labor Relations Board, the Court ruled that recess appointments can only be made during a congressional recess when the vacancies arise.
In addition, they ruled a recess under the Constitution is limited to the period between one Congress and the next – not in the breaks a Congress takes to spend time in their district.
If upheld, any rulings or decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board since the unlawful appointments were made will be invalidated.
The Obama Administration is expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is unclear whether the Court will choose to hear the case.
“So not only has the president trampled all over the Constitution with these appointments, he has wasted the American taxpayers and American businesses money,” stated Westmoreland.
“Every decision the NLRB has made over the last year, has been for nothing. That means the president has forced American businesses to spend time and money to comply with unconstitutional rules. Not to mention the fact that he has forced the American taxpayers to fund their unconstitutional crusade against American businesses. While I’m pleased the Court has ruled the president’s move unconstitutional, I find it troubling that it took a ruling from a United States Appeals Court to finally put this president in check.”
Today’s unanimous decision also calls into question the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to the CFPB, which President Obama made at the same time as the NLRB appointments.
His appointment has been challenged in a separate case. A ruling is expected in that case sometime this year.