Yesterday the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the first case that could – and probably will – limit the President’s use of executive power. This case, Noel Canning, seeks to overturn the use of “recess appointments” by a President. Specifically, President Obama made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board when the Senate was technically in session.
The NLRB then made a number of contentious decisions, one of which impacted an Oregon firm, Noel Canning. They brought suit against the NLRB, in effect saying that the Board didn’t have a legal quorum because the President’s appointments were unconstitutional.
Recess appointments have been used frequently in recent years to appoint people who the Senate has blocked. There is a specific clause in the Constitution allowing for a President to make a recess appointment, but it was designed for times when the Senate could be out of session for months at a time because the mode of travel to Washington was horse and buggy.
Most recently, George W Bush used recess appointments to skirt the Democratic controlled Senate to appoint John Bolton as our UN Ambassador after a contentious battle in the Senate. Harry Reid came up the scheme of effectively shuttering the Senate but remaining technically “in session” by convening the Senate every three days during breaks. No business was done but the Senate was technically “in session”.
It’s worthwhile noting that GWB stopped making recess appointments when the Senate began that practice.
When Obama made his NLRB appointments the Senate was in session following this practice, so Obama deviated from the recess appointment practice of his predecessor. That is an important point to remember because Democrats are screaming that Obama should be able to make any appointments he wants because “Bush did it!” when in fact Bush did not.
We’re looking for something like a 7-2 decision against the President.
It’s worth noting that the suit was brought by a private firm and not by the Senate Republicans. Heaven forbid Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsay Graham and the old boys and girls club that is the US Senate should hurt anyone’s feelings by pointing out that this President routinely takes liberties with the Constitution.
If you’re tired of watching Republicans cave on a regular basis, you can help make an important change by supporting Matt Bevin, a great conservative alternative to Mitch McConnell in the Kentucky Republican Primary. Give up a couple of Starbucks and turn that cash into “BevinBucks”. Let’s take the Senate back in a big way.