President Barack Obama’s lawyers asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold three appointments he made to a federal labor board without Senate confirmation, in a separation-of-powers appeal with implications for a number of regulations.
The appeal, filed today in Washington, contends that Obama made the appointments to the National Labor Relations Board while the Senate was in recess, as the Constitution permits. A federal appeals court said the president’s recess-appointment power applies only at end of Congress’s two-year sessions.
The case may affect as many as 1,000 decisions and orders issued by the NLRB since January 2012. Supreme Court review may also have a ripple effect on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. Obama appointed Richard Cordray, the former attorney general of Ohio, to direct the bureau the same day he installed the NLRB officials.
The appeal stems from a 2011-12 dispute between the administration and congressional Republicans. Aiming to block Obama from making appointments during Congress’s holiday break, House and Senate Republicans refused to formally adjourn. The Senate held so-called pro-forma sessions that sometimes involved a single senator’s appearance in the chamber every third day.
Obama, saying lawmakers were in recess, made the appointments Jan. 4, 2012, in a bid to bypass Senate confirmation.
The timing of today’s filing means the justices probably will say whether they will hear the case before they take their three-month recess starting in late June.
The case involves Noel Canning Corp., a soda bottling company.