President Obama violated the Constitution by going around the Senate to appoint Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as three others to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.
By a 9-0 vote, the justices declared the ‘recess appointments’ Obama made in 2012 when the Senate was holding only pro-forma sessions every three days as ‘invalid.’ However, the appointments will likely stand, as the appointees were each confirmed by a Senate vote.
The Supreme Court did not rule that the methods by which presidents fill key jobs when the Senate is unavailable were invalid – rather, it ruled that three days is not a long enough period to qualify as a ‘recess.’ In their majority ruling, the justices said that a break must be 10 or more days long in order to count as a recess; however they didn't go so far as to codify that.
‘Because the Senate was in session during its pro forma sessions, the president made the recess appointments before us during a break too short to count as recess,’ Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in his majority opinion. ‘For that reason, the appointments are invalid.’
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who, along with 44 other senators, filed an amicus brief in the case and participated in arguments before the Supreme Court, hailed the ruling.
‘I welcome the Supreme Court's important decision â�¦ that the President's so-called 'recess' appointments to the National Labor Relations Board two-and-one-half years ago were unconstitutional,’ McConnell says in a statement. ‘This administration has a tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard those it doesn't.
‘In this case, that disturbing and dangerous tendency extended to the Constitution itself,’ he adds. ‘Whether it's recess appointments or Obamacare, this troubling approach does serious damage to the rule of law, and the court's decision is a clear rebuke of the administration's behavior.
‘The president made an unprecedented power grab by placing political allies at a powerful federal agency while the Senate was meeting regularly and without even bothering to wait for its advice and consent,’ McConnell continues. ‘A unanimous Supreme Court has rejected this brazen power-grab. All Americans should be grateful for the Court's rebuke of the administration – and the Democratic Majority in the Senate should be embarrassed by its failure, yet again, to stand up to the president and to defend the Senate's uniquely important role under our Constitution. I was proud to lead the effort to defend the Senate against the president's unprecedented power grab.’
For more, check out this Wall Street Journal report.