President Barack Obama just suffered a humiliating defeat in federal court. A top federal appeals court has removed three presidential appointees from power, and invalidated all actions they’ve taken over the past twelve months.
One year ago, Obama filled three seats on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)–an essential power center for Obama’s labor-union allies–with recess appointments, claiming that the U.S. Senate was in recess even though the Senate was still in session.
No president in history had ever done such a thing, and Republicans and conservatives immediately denounced it as an unconstitutional power grab.
In Noel Canning v. NLRB, the U.S. Court of Appeals for D.C. Circuit held today that Obama’s three recess appointments are in fact unconstitutional. As such, the three seats on NLRB were never legally filled. Thus NLRB only had two members, while the law requires three members on the five-member Board in order to have a quorum to conduct business or issue orders.
The D.C. Circuit therefore concluded that all NLRB orders issued since these recess appointments were made are entirely void, and NLRB has no power to act at all unless and until the Senate votes to confirm Obama’s nominees.