In a setback for President Barack Obama, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that he violated the Constitution in making recess appointments last year, a decision that could severely curtail the president’s ability to bypass the Senate to fill administration vacancies.
The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session — and not in recess — at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions made over the past year.
The court also ruled that the president could only make recess appointments if the openings arise when the Senate is in an official recess, which it defined as the once-a-year break between sessions of Congress.