On Friday, a ruling by a federal appeals court said that President Obama had violated the Constitution of the United States when he filled a labor board with recess appointments. The decision by the court could limit the power of the president in pushing through federal nominees.
The federal court said the U.S. Senate had not been in a true recess, for the purposes of recess appointments, when during January 2012 Obama installed three new National Labor Relations Board nominees.
Those same nominees had been facing stiff opposition from Republicans and at that time, the appointments created an uproar. Republicans said that the president had undercut the power of the Senate to confirm his nominees because although the majority of Senate members were not in Washington at the time, the Senate was not formally adjourned.
In what many said was a surprisingly broad decision, the panel of three judges rejected the appointments to the NLRB and any made during the time the Senate is on a break, but officially in session.
The same court also ruled that appointments made during a recess could be done do only for positions that become vacant during a time the Senate is officially in recess.
If the appeals court decision stands, said on Washington lawyer, it would reduce significantly the recess power of the president. He continued by saying the decision was a big one for executive power and one of the most important to take place in a number of decades.
The ruling also creates an immediate problem at the NLRB, an agency that is independent and oversees disputes relating to labor, because of the lack of enough members. In addition, rulings the NLRB have made recently might be vulnerable to some challenge.