Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High Court Skeptical of Obama Recess Appointments Constitution Clause at Center of Case

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

High Court Skeptical of Obama Recess Appointments Constitution Clause at Center of Case

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court cast doubt today on President Barack Obama's use of a provision of the Constitution to make temporary appointments to high-level positions over the objection of Senate Republicans.

The court is writing on a blank slate as it considers for the first time the Constitution's recess appointments clause. That clause allows the president to fill vacancies temporarily, but only when the Senate is in recess.

The justices heard more than 90 minutes of arguments in a dispute over Mr. Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012. Republicans and employers who objected to NLRB decisions made by those Obama appointees say the Senate was not in recess when Mr. Obama acted, and so any decisions made by the board were illegitimate.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. warned the court that it would essentially write the recess appointment power out of the Constitution if it found that those appointments were illegal.

The court battle between the Obama administration and Senate Republicans is an outgrowth of the increasing partisanship and political stalemate that have been hallmarks of Washington over the past 20 years, and especially since Mr. Obama took office in 2009.

Indeed, Justice Elena Kagan seized on the political dispute to make the point to Mr. Verrilli that "congressional intransigence" to Mr. Obama nominees may not be enough to win the court fight.

Justice Kagan, Mr. Verrilli's predecessor as Mr. Obama's top Supreme Court lawyer, suggested that it "is the Senate's role to determine whether they're in recess."

There are three questions before the court - whether recess appointments can be made only during the once-a-year break between sessions of Congress, whether the vacancy must occur while the Senate is away in order to be filled during the same break and whether brief, pro forma sessions of the Senate, held every few days to break up a longer Senate hiatus, can prevent the president from making recess appointments.

Justice Kagan's question addressed the latter point and offers the court a narrower way to rule on recess appointments. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.