06.27.2014 0

Supreme Court delivers blow to Obama on NLRB appointments, now Congress must act

supreme_courtBy Rep. Austin Scott, Nathan Mehrens

Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in National Labor Relations Board vs. Noel Canning put the brakes on one of President Obama’s most egregious examples of overreach.

The Court decided that the president’s January 2012 installation of three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) while proclaiming the U.S. Senate to be in “recess” was an unconstitutional usurpation of the Senate’s advice and consent duties. Under our Constitution, the president may only unilaterally install persons into positions requiring Senate confirmation when the Senate is actually in recess. As the Court held, in this instance, the Senate was not actually in recess and the appointments were invalid.

These members of the NLRB serve in positions that require Senate confirmation before they may assume their posts– confirmation the Senate had declined to give to the particular nominees put forward by the president. As a result, the Court’s invalidation of these “recess” appointments left the Board without a quorum to make decisions over an extended period of time.

If the Supreme Court had decided the case differently, the consequences for our system of limited government with its constitutionally mandated checks and balances would have been disastrous, sending a message that we allow presidents to bypass the Senate and unilaterally install appointees, including federal judges, any time the president deems the Senate “unavailable,” such as over lunch.

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