by Ben Nanamaker | April 25, 2013 7:06 pm
One of the tools in the president’s toolbox to avoid partisan gridlock — the recess appointment — has been challenged recently, and President Barack Obama is hoping the Supreme Court can sort things out.
Recess appointments are a way for presidents to get around required Senate confirmation votes for presidential appointees. They typically occur when the Senate is out of session and senators have left town. The Obama administration — and several other presidential administrations before his — have argued that the president has authority to have his appointments put in place without confirmation when the Senate is out of session.
Currently, the issue is three appointees to the National Labor Relations Board from January 2012. After Senate Republicans refused to consider two of his nominees, Obama issued recess appointments for them. The appointments were challenged in court, and the federal appeals court in Washington D.C. ruled Obama did not have the authority to make these appointments. They argued that this violated the Senate’s advise-and-consent role.
Invalidating the president’s right to issue recess appointments could have far-reaching consequences. It would call into question any ruling the NLRB made from the date those three members were appointed, not to mention the countless other recess appointments handing out by other presidents.
The Congressional Research Service said that hundreds of appointments, dating back to Ronald Reagan’s presidency, could be invalidated by a ruling against the constitutionality of recess appointments.
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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