CHICAGO (AP) — A federal appeals court in Chicago heard arguments Friday in a case that challenges whether President Barack Obama had the authority to appoint three people to the National Labor Relations Board without Senate approval — and who gets to decide whether the Senate is in session.
At issue are three NLRB appointments Obama made in January under a provision for filling vacancies when Congress is in recess.
The Senate had taken a 20-day recess, but Republican leaders and right-to-work groups claimed it technically stayed in session because it was gaveled in and out every few days, and therefore Obama's appointments were unconstitutional. Obama lawyers argue the Senate itself had called for a recess, no business was conducted and attendance wasn't required during the brief "pro forma" sessions.
Republicans had vowed for months to block any appointees to the NLRB, which was down to just two members, because of what they considered the board's pro-union decisions. The five-member board must have at least three members to function.
Obama has said he made the appointments to prevent the board from effectively being shut down, leaving it unable to referee labor-management disputes or rule on unfair labor practices.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took the matter under advisement and first must decide whether petitioners have legal standing to bring the case.MORE