by Mike Hall
(Jan 25, 2013) A panel of Republican-appointed judges, including one who has, according to Think Progress, previously suggested that all business, labor and Wall Street regulation is constitutionally suspect, ruled that President Obama’s 2012 recess appointments of three members to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are invalid. Senate Republicans had been blocking confirmation votes on the three before the president’s action.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka called the ruling “shocking.”
In a radical and unprecedented decision, the court has interpreted the Constitution in a way that would deprive both Republican and Democratic presidents of a critical tool they have used hundreds of times over the years—including 179 appointments by former President George W. Bush and 139 appointments by former President Clinton—to keep agencies functioning and make the government work. In this case, the affected agency is the National Labor Relations Board—a crucially important agency that enforces workers’ rights.
On Jan. 4, 2012, Obama appointed Deputy Labor Secretary Sharon Block, attorney Richard Griffin and NLRB counsel Terence Flynn to fill vacancies on the labor board, bringing it to full strength for the first time in more than a year.
Nicole Flatow at Think Progress writes:
At the time of the Obama’s appointments, Republican push-back had focused on a tactic to prevent Congress from ever really going into “recess” by holding “pro forma” sessions every several days. In response, Obama’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a cogent legal memo rejecting the ability of Republicans to change a recess into something less by holding sessions in name only.
The court ruled that those “pro forma” sessions prevented the NLRB appointments. Says Trumka:
We strongly disagree with the court’s reasoning and decision. We fully expect this radical decision to be reversed, and that other courts addressing this issue will uphold the president’s recess appointment authority. In the meantime, the appointees to the National Labor Relations Board remain in their jobs and the NLRB remains open for business.
Trumka also urged the Senate to confirm a package of nominees to the NLRB.
The rights protected by this agency are too important for the agency to have to operate under a legal cloud.
Mike Hall writes for the AFL-CIO Now blog where this first appeared.