Republicans on the Hill cheered the 9-0 Supreme Court decision that found President Obama’s January 2012 appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional, while the top Democrat in the Senate maintained that the White House was in the right.
Obama branded them “recess appointments,” but the Senate was actually in pro-forma session at the time.
In September of that year, 41 GOP senators filed an amicus brief in support of the case brought against the presidential appointments. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled the appointments of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin were unconstitutional in February 2013.
“The unanimous Supreme Court decision today is a powerful rebuke to the Obama administration and a reminder to others that the Constitution gives the Senate powers the executive branch cannot usurp,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). “Our founders wanted a president, not a king, and our Constitution is written to protect against precisely the kind of overreach this president demonstrated with his so-called recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said “all Americans should be grateful for the Court’s rebuke of the administration—and the Democratic Majority in the Senate should be embarrassed by its failure, yet again, to stand up to the President and to defend the Senate’s uniquely important role under our Constitution.”
“I was proud to lead the effort to defend the Senate against the president’s unprecedented power grab,” McConnell added.
The challenge to the recess appointments was brought by Noel Canning, a family-owned business in Washington state that fought the NLRB’s determination it must enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union.
“This administration has a tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard those it doesn’t. In this case, that disturbing and dangerous tendency extended to the Constitution itself,” McConnell said. “Whether it’s recess appointments or Obamacare, this troubling approach does serious damage to the rule of law, and the Court’s decision is a clear rebuke of the administration’s behavior.”
“This administration’s efforts to turn the NLRB into a pro-union, anti-business clearinghouse has made it that much harder for our economy to turn the corner and more difficult for folks to get back to work,” said Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
“For too long, our president has operated by fiat, bypassing Congress and overriding the will of the American people,” added Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “Today’s ruling sends a clear message against President Obama’s power grabs and restores more constitutionally-required accountability for all nominations going forward.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the ruling just underscored how important it was for him to drop the nuclear option last fall and lower the cloture threshold for approving Obama’s judicial nominees.
“Since President Obama took office, Senate Republicans have done everything possible to deny qualified nominees from receiving a fair up-or-down vote. President Obama did the right thing when he made these appointments on behalf of American workers. The National Labor Relations Board had ceased to function due to Senate Republican obstruction of these three qualified nominees, threatening the livelihood and safety of working men and women throughout the country,” Reid said in a statement.
“More than anything, today’s Supreme Court ruling underscores the importance of the rules reform Senate Democrats enacted last November,” Reid continued. “Without that reform and with today’s ruling, a small but vocal minority would have more power than ever to block qualified nominees from getting a simple up-or-down vote on the floor. Since the November reform the Senate has been confirming qualified nominees at a steady pace and today’s ruling will have no effect on our ability to continue ensuring that qualified nominees receive an up-or-down vote.”