Federal court smacks Obama's hand for recess appointments
Obama unlikely to change his ways.
Obama's habit of making end runs around Congress is catching up to him. A federal appeals court has ruled that Obama violated the Constitution when he circumvented the Senate to appoint three people to serve on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during a Senate recess. The decision could help to check some of his future rulings by edict.
Noel Canning, a Washington state bottling company, brought the case. It has also been encouraged by Republicans who were worried that Obama was making radical appointments that would upset the balance between employers and organized labor. The case specifically challenges the legality of recent NLRB rulings because board members were improperly appointed. The courts have agreed.
The court ruled that Obama was wrong to fill the vacancies on his own, when the Senate normally handles much of the vetting process.
Obama has used his executive powers to accomplish many of his personal agenda items without including the Senate. This is likely because the Senate has been one of the most bitterly divided and least productive senates in recent history. Obama has argued that this is the only way he can accomplish many tasks.
However, waiting for the Senate to go on recess, then making a series of appointments, has upset many leaders who say Obama is ruling in an autocratic fashion, issuing appointments and edicts without congressional review.
To roadblock this behavior, the Senate has begun to gavel in, every three days, to prevent the President from declaring a recess and making appointments. However, Obama regards these meetings as a sham, which in truth they were merely a legal ruse designed to block his behavior while the courts addressed the greater legal issue.
The court rejected Obama's complaints and ruled the gavel sessions legal. Furthermore, they have ruled against Obama's appointments.
In the wake of the ruling, several Republican lawmakers called on the appointed members of the labor board to resign, however none have done so. Instead, they have continued working, loving their jobs more than the Constitution.
Legal scholars have been quick to point out that the court ruling is about the separation of powers in American government. While Obama is the executive and he is responsible for keeping the government running, it is truly up to the legislature to set policy. Ruling by edict, repeatedly and deliberately, upsets this balance of power, concentrating too much of it in the hands of the executive branch.
Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote in his ruling, "Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointment power would eviscerate the Constitution's separation of powers."
Speaker of the House, John Boehner said the ruling was "a victory for accountability in government."
Of course, Obama rejects the ruling and vows to see it appealed. It is unlikely that he will change his approach to ruling based on a mere appeals court decision. Unfortunately, it is this contempt that made the case necessary in the first place.
It will not be the last.
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