- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate in 2012 to appoint three members to the National Labor Relations Board, according to a federal appeal court ruling on Friday.
Analysts have immediately suggested that the ruling could have far-reaching implications, and that it will limit a president's powers to make recess appointments in the future.
The ruling was also labeled a victory for Republicans and business groups, who had been critical of the labor board, and were angered by Obama's actions in bypassing the Senate last year.
If the ruling stands, it has the potential to invalidate hundreds of board decisions made by the National Labor Relations Board over the past year since the appointments.
The controversial appointments were made by Obama on Jan. 4, 2012, during a period when Congress was on an extended holiday break.
This week an appeals court found that under the United States Constitution a recess occurs only during the breaks between formal year-long sessions of Congress, and not just any informal break when lawmakers leave town.
The ruling also confirmed the point that presidents can only bypass the Senate when administration vacancies occur during an official recess. However, as the court's definition of "recess" did not cover the period in January 2012, Obama's appointments to fill the administration vacancies violated the Constitution.
The White House immediately indicated that it disagreed with the court decision and that no changes would be made to the labor board. Press Secretary for the White House, Jay Carney, said it would be business as usual for the labor board, and they would not be heeding to Republican calls for the board members in question to resign.
"The decision is novel and unprecedented," Carney said, according to The Associated Press. "It contradicts 150 years of practice by Democratic and Republican administrations."
The Justice Department also indicated that the Obama Administration would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the decision. The following statement was released: "We disagree with the court's ruling and believe that the president's recess appointments are constitutionally sound."