The U.S. Supreme Court on June 24 said it would review a case during its next term that could have a significant impact on the way presidential recess appointments are made.
A broad decision by the court in the case, National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, could limit a president’s ability to put a personal stamp on the board, other federal agencies and federal courts. The high court is nearing the end of its current term; its next one will begin in the fall.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit had ruled on Jan. 25 that three appointments President Obama made to the NLRB in January 2012 were invalid, because they were not made during the period after the Senate goes home for the year and before it starts the next session. In its decision, a three-judge panel of the appellate court said that is the only time when presidential recess appointments can be made.
Obama nominated Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin and Republican Terence Flynn while the Senate was in a “pro forma” session, when only one or two senators were on the chamber's floor each day.
The appeals court did not rule on the issue of whether appointments could be made during pro forma sessions, but said the appointments were invalid because they were not made between Senate sessions.
The NLRB appealed the ruling, and asked the Supreme Court to limit its consideration to the question of whether appointments constitutionally can be made any time during a legislative session when Congress is in recess, or must be made only between sessions.
With the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, Noel Canning, a Yakima, Wash., bottling company, petitioned the high court also to rule on whether appointments can be made during pro forma sessions.
In its order agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court said it would consider both issues: appointments made during a recess and during pro forma sessions.