The Constitution’s balance of powers is re-asserting itself. President Obama had been appointing officials that need Senate approval by doing so during holidays when Senators were out of town. Since the Constitution allows for temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess (back when the Senate was a part time body with long periods between sessions), the President claimed these short holiday breaks constituted a “recess,” even though the Senate was still in session.
The Supreme Court has ruled–unanimously!–that these appointments are illegal. The Judicial branch is reining in the Executive Branch in its attempts to exert its power at the expense of the Legislative branch. The Constitution still works.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday limited the president’s power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments, ruling in favor of Senate Republicans in their partisan clash with President Barack Obama.
The court’s first-ever case involving the Constitution’s recess appointments clause ended in a unanimous decision holding that Obama’s appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012 without Senate confirmation were illegal. Obama invoked the Constitution’s provision giving the president the power to make temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess.
Problem is, the court said, the Senate was not actually in a formal recess when Obama acted.
Obama had argued that the Senate was on an extended holiday break and that the brief sessions it held every three days were a sham that was intended to prevent him from filling seats on the NLRB.
The justices rejected that argument Wednesday.