Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Hear Recess Appointments Challenge

President Obama bypassed the Senate to place people on the National Labor Relations Board


Setting the stage for a major constitutional showdown over the scope of presidential power, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed this morning to hear the case of National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning. At issue is whether President Barack Obama's three purported recess appointments to the NLRB in January 2012 violated the Constitution because they occurred when the Senate was not actually in recess.

Under the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, the president may make temporary appointments to "fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions which shall expire at the end of their next session." In this instance, however, Senate Republicans were holding pro forma sessions—convening every three days—for the purpose of denying the president his lawful ability to invoke the recess appointment power.