January 25, 2013

Does the US Senate 'pro forma' session need reforming?

I'm kind of two minds about this. Not sure whether it's more an abuse of power by the minority party in the Senate, or whether the DC Court of Appeals ruling is ultimately correct.

And, just what is that ruling?

The DC Circuit Court has ruled that multiple appointments President Barack Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board during a Senate recess were unconstitutional.
The Obama administration has repeatedly asserted that the appointments to the N.L.R.B. were legitimate because he made them when the Senate was away during a 20-day holiday recess a year ago. The appeals court strongly disagreed, ruling that the Senate was technically in session because it was gaveled in and out every few days as part of a tactic that created “pro forma” sessions. 
I don't know if SCOTUS will uphold the appellate court ruling or not, but this is a biggie on balance of powers issues.

More here from the LA Times; use "porn mode" to defeat the paywall as needed.
In Friday’s decision, Chief Judge David Sentelle ruled for the challengers and said a “recess” refers to the break when Congress formally adjourns after a two-year session.
“An interpretation of 'the Recess' that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law,” said Sentelle, an appointee of President Reagan. He was joined by Judges Karen Henderson and Thomas Griffith, who are also Republican appointees.
The big question is, which is not clear, is will the appellate court ruling, if it stands, invalidate the NLRB rulings made since the most recent recess appointments? If it does, then we damn well better have some liberal groups suing over every Bush-era recess appointment, too.

Yes, that would be boatloads of chaos, but, better that than letting a one-sided ruling stand.

This is clearly an act of conservative judicial activism, otherwise.

No comments: