The Supreme Court announced Monday that it will decide next term whether President Obama exceeded his constitutional authority by making appointments while the Senate was on break last year.
The case at hand involves Obama’s appointment of three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), but the broader issue concerns the power that presidents throughout history have used to fill their administrations in the face of Senate opposition and inaction.
The justices will review a broad ruling by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that upset decades of understanding about the president’s recess appointment power. The court ruled that presidents may make recess appointments only between enumerated sessions of the Senate, not when senators take an intra-session break.
Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. said in a petition to the Supreme Court that such a reading of the clause would “drastically curtail the scope of the president’s authority.”
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