A federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he made three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board last January.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that Obama did not have the power to bypass the Senate and make the appointments.
The Obama administration has repeatedly asserted that the appointments to the NLRB were legitimate because he made them when the Senate was away during a 20-day holiday recess a year ago. The appeals court strongly disagreed, ruling that the Senate was technically in session because it was gaveled in and out every few days as part of a tactic that created “pro forma" sessions.
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have used the tactic of “pro forma" sessions to block presidents from making recess appointments.
The court’s decision also raises doubts about the legitimacy of Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Cordray’s appointment, which is being challenged in a separate lawsuit, was also made last January under the same recess circumstances. On Thursday, Obama announced he was again nominating Cordray to that position, voicing hope that Senate Republicans would not block confirmation this time, as they did with the previous nomination of Cordray.