The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday questioning the legality of Barack Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, but they don’t seem to be buying what the administration is hocking. (Read more about the case specifics here.)
Making recess appointments is nothing new to presidents, but what is highly unusual is the way that Barack Obama went about his. In what appears an unprecedented executive power usurpation, Mr. Obama declared the Senate in recess, though that wing of the Congress was reportedly not in recess and still holding meetings. Rather than a Senate confirmation process, Obama instead did a run-around—an all too common practice for him—and stacked the NLRB with his political supporters. Interestingly, all the justices, including liberal justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, questioned harshly U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli about the legality of the appointments, and thus its regulations, and its rulings in labor disputes. Even Justice Kagan reminded Verrilli that declaring itself in recess is something only the Senate can do. Not surprisingly, the ever-fearless Justice Scalia fired a shot over Obama’s bow.
“Scalia told U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli that the Constitutional clause on recess appointments, which states, ‘The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session,’ has only been read to be vague or broad by ‘self-interested presidents.’
Scalia said that official recesses were required for recess appointments. ‘Let’s assume I think the text is clearly against you,’ Scalia stated, explaining that Obama would have to ‘ignore the Constitution’ in order to simply order recess appointments during a non-recess.”
It would appear our Constitution has indeed been ignored, repeatedly and without shame, by this power-hungry, “self-interested” president. Score one for Justice Scalia.
But we’ve been through this before. After the affront to our Constitution that the contortionist-like ObamaCare ruling was—no thanks to Chief Justice Roberts—I won’t be holding my breath for this decision. If—and that’s a big IF—the Justices rule against the Obama administration, every rule, regulation and ruling decreed by that body over the past two years could be deemed invalid, at least until a replacement Board can be seated to reconsider them (the constitutionality of the Board itself being worthy of a separate debate!). Three federal appeals courts have already ruled the Obama appointments clearly overstepped the authority of the executive branch. Let’s hope the Supremes shun partisanship and get this one right.
Coming up on the Supreme Court’s docket: A challenge to an Ohio law that prohibits candidates and issue-focused groups from lying to voters in their campaigns. Yes, really.
Abuse of Power. Frankly, I’m surprised – and pleased – by the ruling of the three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit…