Supreme Court to Hear Case on Obama's Disputed NLRB Appointments

By Lengell, Sean | Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, January 12, 2014 | Go to article overview

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Obama's Disputed NLRB Appointments


Lengell, Sean, Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The


The Supreme Court on Monday is set to hear a bitter dispute between Republicans and the White House over whether President Obama exceeded his authority when appointing members to the National Labor Relations Board during a congressional recess.

The justices' decision could cast a legal cloud over hundreds of rulings by the board, which resolves complaints of unfair labor practices and conducts elections for labor union representation.

The case, NLRB v. Noel Canning, centers around recess appointments Obama made to the labor board. In January 2012, Obama appointed three members to the board when the Senate was on break. Presidents can circumvent required Senate approval if the chamber is on recess, a move Obama deemed necessary because of repeated GOP blocks of his nominations to the panel.

Republicans worried the Obama appointees had a pro-union bias. But the White House said the GOP block was done solely for political reasons.

Then in February 2012 the NLRB ruled against Noel Canning (part of Noel Corp.), of Yakima, Wash., in a dispute with the Teamsters union. The company, aided by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, challenged the decision, arguing that the president's January appointments to the NLRB were invalid and thus the board didn't have the necessary quorum to resolve its dispute.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of Canning, saying Obama violated the law when he bypassed the Senate. The court said recess appointments are constitutional only if the vacancies and appointments occur in between official sessions of Congress.

The NLRB appealed, and the Supreme Court took up the case.

If the high court rules against the labor board, a minimum of 100 NRLB decisions -- and possibly more -- made by the recess-appointed members could be deemed invalid.

The labor board also would effectively be shut down, as a ruling against the Obama administration would leave the five-member board with only one member, and it needs three to conduct business. …

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