In amongst the breaking Georgia news of our senior US Senator deciding to retire, a federal appeals court in DC ruled that President Barack Obama’s recess appointments made in January of 2012 were unconstitutional.
From junior (soon to be senior) US Senator Johnny Isakson who joined with 38 other senators in filing an amicus brief and joined a court challenge of President Obama’s recess appointments on January 4, 2012:
“This court ruling is a great victory for the U.S. Constitution,” said Isakson. “This decision confirms my belief that the president disregarded the Constitution when making his so-called recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. I hope this sends a clear message to the president that he cannot simply bypass Congress in the nomination process.”
From Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-03):
“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.
From the Georgia chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business:
“We’re thrilled that the D.C. Circuit court agreed with us – in short, that President Obama overstepped his constitutional authority in making recess appointments to the NLRB.
“Small-business owners throughout the country have suffered under the unabashedly pro-union decisions handed down by the NLRB. They deserve to be protected from unconstitutional acts that exacerbate the NLRB’s devolution from a neutral arbiter between labor and employers to a pro-union government agency.”
This will no doubt wind its way to the US Supreme Court and may interpret what they believe the definition of “recess” is when it comes to making appointments. It’s dangerous to have a president who is willing to interpret the definition of “recess” whenever he’s displeased with the Senate. For all intents and purposes, and disagree if you must, but there would be a chance that it could come down to where the president may decide that the Senate is in “recess” as long as they are not occupying their chamber. However, this behavior isn’t surprising since the President has announced that he doesn’t need Congress to move forward with his policies as well as bully the Supremes (the High Court, not the musical group) when he wants things done his way.
The Constitution established a federal government with co-equal branches to check and balance against each other. It seems President Obama believes that the Legislative and Judicial branches are subordinate to the Executive.