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Friday, January 25, 2013

Federal Appeals Court Rules Obama's Recess Appointments Were Illegal And Unconstitutional

By Susan Duclos

[Update reminder] In 2007, Harry Reid started holding pro-forma Senate sessions to prevent George Bush from naming recess appointments. (Source- CNN from 2007)

Last year when Republicans did the same, Obama named them anyway. This ruling invalidates Obama's appointments.(Source- The Hill) [End Update]

A federal appeals court has ruled that Barack Obama abused his powers when he made recess appointments last year when the Senate was technically not in recess, making those appointments unconstitutional and illegal.

(Ruling embedded below the post)

Via AP:

President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill vacancies on a labor relations panel, a federal appeals court panel ruled Friday.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments last year to the National Labor Relations Board.

The unanimous decision is an embarrassing setback for the president, who made the appointments after Senate Republicans spent months blocking his choices for an agency they contended was biased in favor of unions.

The ruling also throws into question Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray's appointment, also made under the recess circumstance, has been challenged in a separate case.

More from Washington Times:

The three-judge panel’s ruling is a major blow to Mr. Obama. The judges ruled that the appointments Mr. Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board are illegal, and the board no longer has a quorum to operate.

But the ruling has even broader constitutional significance, with the judges arguing that the president’s recess appointment powers don’t apply to “intrasession” appointments — those made when Congress has left town for a few days or weeks.

The judges signaled the power only applies after Congress has adjourned sine die, which is a legislative term of art that signals the end to a long work period. In modern times, it means the president could only use his powers when Congress quits business at the end of a year.

“The dearth of intrasession appointments in the years and decades following the ratification of the Constitution speaks far more impressively than the history of recent presidential exercise of a supposed power to make such appointments,” the judges wrote.

“Recent presidents are doing no more than interpreting the Constitution. While we recognize that all branches of government must of necessity exercise their understanding of the Constitution in order to perform their duties faithfully thereto, ultimately it is our role to discern the authoritative meaning of the supreme law.”

The case is likely to end up before the Supreme Court, and it turns on the definition of what the Constitution means when it says “recess.”

To put it bluntly, Obama just got his ass handed to him.

[Update] Some great analysis from Hot Air over this decision and the possible future ramifications.

[Update] Obama's Illegal, Invalid and Unconstitutional Appointee Will Ignore Federal Court Ruling

(The portion dealing with The meaning of "the recess," starts on page 16 of the embedded ruling below)

(Grammatical error corrected in this post)