The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a closely watched case involving the president’s recess appointment power. The case—National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning—appeals a federal court ruling that President Obama’s appointment of three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in 2012 was unconstitutional.
Senate Republicans had blocked confirmation of Obama’s NLRB appointments in late 2011, leaving the board with just two members. But in January 2012, the Senate stopped legislating during a 20-day “holiday,” although it did not formally adjourn. Obama moved to fill three NLRB vacancies anyway, citing the Constitution’s recess appointments clause. The appeals court ruled that Obama lacked the authority to make the appointments.
If the court rules against the NLRB, it could invalidate more than a year’s worth of NLRB decisions in which the three members participated. Read background on the case.