Posted by | June 26, 2014 11:18 | Filed under: Politics Top Stories

The ruling is a blow to Executive Branch power, but could have been more sweeping:

The Supreme Court dealt a blow to the powers of the presidency Thursday, ruling decisively that President Obama violated the Constitution by going around the Senate to name key labor and financial watchdogs.

Resolving a longstanding battle between the two other branches of government, the justices declared invalid key “recess appointments” made by Obama in 2012 when the Senate was holding only pro-forma sessions every three days.

But the majority opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer did not go further and strike down most other methods by which presidents fill key jobs when the Senate is unavailable. While the ruling as it affects Obama’s appointments was unanimous, four conservative justices would have applied the restriction far more broadly.

Instead, the court stopped short of limiting such appointments to remote periods and circumstances, as a federal appeals court had ruled last year.

“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,” Breyer said. “For that reason, the appointments are invalid.” He was joined by Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

By: dave-dr-gonzo

Dave "Doctor" Gonzo is a renegade record producer, writer, reformed corporate shill, and still-registered lobbyist for non-one-percenter performing artists and musicians. He lives in a heavily fortified compound in one of Manhattan's less trendy neighborhoods.

  • William

    Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, states:

    The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
    Even Washington made recess appointments. George W. Bush made 171 and Reagan 240. I think Obama is less than 40.

    • Teddy Simon

      Lets not forget who made the last Supreme Court Justice appointee

    • John Tarter

      Amazing! Even when the SCOTUS is unanimous you continue to defend the dictator. But really, it was only Obama who took this to a new level with HIM declaring when the Senate was in recess.

      • mea_mark

        It was the republicans that took this to a new level by not approving anyone to fill the necessary positions. The republican party of “no” is trying to make government dysfunctional, they are blight upon the political landscape of America. The republican party needs to be voted out of office until such time that they are willing to help the government function in an efficient way.

        • John Tarter

          Oh I see, so the loyal opposition just needs to lay down and get rolled over by Obama’s reckless governing?

          • William

            Oh I see, so the loyal opposition just needs to lay down and get rolled over by Obama’s reckless governing?

            Playing the victim card huh?

            “In the history of the United States, 168 presidential nominees have been filibustered, 82 blocked under President Obama, 86 blocked under all the other presidents.”

            Nice try.


            • Dwendt44

              It was the party of “NO” that did the phoney ‘never out of session’ tactic to keep Obama from filling a vacancy.
              Obstruction, filibuster, and blocking appointments and jobs bills than might benefit the middle class.

      • William

        Please point out the part where I defended anybody. I made a Statement.
        I STATED the part of the Constitution that mentioned it.
        I STATED accurately the Presidents that used it before. No opinion whatsoever on my part.
        Now it might be a good time to crawl back into your troll hole and come back when you have something real to share.

      • arc99

        dictator? try losing the hysterical spin..

        the US Constitution provided no definition on when the Senate is in recess. there was no standard in the Constitution to ignore.. today’s decision does provide some specific criteria.

        the bottom line is that as of now, the Senate can convene once every 3 days for 10 seconds and block any Presidential nominee it so chooses. remember that if the day ever comes that the candidate you voted for is in the White House and the Senate Majority Leader is of the opposing party seeking to prevent the President’s nominees from even receiving an up or down vote from the entire body.

        • John Tarter

          That’s right, the Senate is able to make up it’s own rules as a co – equal branch of the Federal government. It is not Obama’s job to declare the Senate in or out of recess. He needs to mind his own business and respect the oath of office he took and not delegate himself any extra powers he does not have.

          • arc99

            It is the Senate Majority leader’s job to declare the Senate in recess or not and Harry Reid concurred with the President’s decision.

  • mea_mark

    So the best way to have a functioning government with all the necessary post and positions filled, is to vote out the party of “no”.

  • arc99

    Sen. Reid has pointed out today that in the wake of the Court’s decision, the importance of the rules change to eliminate the requirement that 60 votes are needed in order to end a filibuster is even more important. In the future, it will be far less likely that recess appointments will be necessary.

    It will be much easier to get an up or down vote from the full Senate, assuming the nomination makes it out of committee.

    So the Court has made its decision in accordance with their reading of the Constitution, and Senate Democrats used their Constitutional authority to change the rules on approving Presidential nominees. I can live with that.

  • Ross Cassell

    How about taking your losses with your wins, instead of blaming everything on the Republicans.. In the comments below, the Repubs are blamed for blocking Obama, that’s what the opposition does duh.. I remember quite well the Democrats were quite skilled at doing the SAME EXACT THING when the roles were reversed.. I digress the liberal double standard rears its ugly head once more, because its different when your side does it?? Maybe not everything is the republicans fault???

    • arc99

      what double standard are you referring to?

      is it the double standard where 3,000 dead on 9/11/2001 is not as serious as 4 dead on 9/11/2012?

      is it the double standard where Republican Congressmen with government managed health insurance want to prevent everyone else from having the same health care options they have?

      is it the double standard where no Republican President is asked for a birth certificate?

      is it the double standard where spending billions of dollars in Iraq is patriotic but spending those same billions right here at home to provide food and shelter to the poor is socialism?

      is it the double standard where swooping on to an air craft carrier standing in front of a MISSION ACCOMPLISHED sign is appropriately Presidential, but a 10 minute speech given from the White House to announce the success of the bin Laden mission, is taking too much credit?

      or is there some other double standard you are referring to? please advise.

      • Ross Cassell

        “what double standard are you referring to?”
        The one that says its ok for Democrats to oppose a GOP President but its not ok for Republicans to oppose a Democrat President, especially the one we have now, whom you all regard as GOD..
        Your strawman argument above is pathetic as it has nothing to do with your GOD being slapped down by **ALL* the Supremes, including those Supremes appointed by both himself or the Clinton.
        If your side expects us to hold our side accountable, I expect you to do the same, yet you FAIL everytime!!

  • William

    With the filibuster rule change the ruling is pretty much moot.

  • Bob Waas

    Gee, not one vote for. In 2008 Obama bragged how he taught Constitutional law (to whom I don’t know) yet it to SCOTUS to remind him what it actual says about his authority limit.

  • The last time the Supreme Court settled a fight between the White House and Congress was in 1974, when the justices ordered President Richard Nixon to surrender the Watergate tapes. That ruling was unanimous.

    That the justices decision on President Obama’s recess appointment powers was also unanimous should surprise no one. Ever since Bush v. Gore in 2000, the court has been very sensitive to accusations that it has become politically polarized.

    Acutely aware of the bitterly partisan (and, I dare say, racially-charged) divide between the nation’s first black president, a Democrat, and the almost all-white Republicans who control one house of Congress and hold enough votes to filibuster in the other house, Chief Justice John Roberts likely insisted on a unanimous ruling by all nine justices.

    Had the court split 5-4, its ruling would have been instantly dismissed as politically partisan and have long-term negative effects on the court’s standing with the public. In other words, this latest ruling HAD to be unanimous, for the sake of the court’s own reputation.

    In any case, the ruling is pretty much moot, since the Democrats who control the Senate invoked the “nuclear option” and changed Senate rules to require only a simple majority for confirmation of the president’s nominees (with the singular exception of nominees to the Supreme Court itself).