The Supreme Court has attempted to restore balance to the presidency by ruling that President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he skirted the Senate and made recess appointments in 2012.
Since taking office, Obama has made 32 recess appointments. His record is surpassed by Ronald Reagan, who made 232 recess appointments during his tenure, and Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who made more than 100 each.
The Court sharply curtailed the practice and nullified action Obama took during pro forma sessions held in the Senate.
Pro forma, Latin for “as a matter of form,” are sessions held when no formal business is conducted in the Senate and the House.
Pro forma sessions fulfill the obligation under the Constitution “that neither chamber can adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other.”
Senate Republicans have used cursory pro forma sessions to prevent Obama from making recess appointments and circumventing Congress. In response, the Democrat majority in the Senate changed the rules to block Republicans from preventing the appointments.
The ruling by the Supreme Court on Thursday calls into question hundreds of decisions made by Obama’s labor board. The board was dominated by members appointed during recess. A new five member board approved by the Senate will now have to revisit those previous decisions.
The Obama administration argued Congress was on an extended holiday break when the president made his appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.
The Court said the Senate was not actually in recess when Obama acted.
During arguments on Wednesday, Justice Stephen Breyer stated in his majority opinion that a congressional break must last at least 10 days to be considered a recess under the Constitution.
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