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Supreme Court Ruling on Obama's Appointments to the NLRB Still a Victory For the Presidency, Political Science Expert Says

Released: 26-Jun-2014 11:00 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Georgia State University
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Robert M. Howard, Ph.D., J.D., professor of political science at Georgia State University and executive director of the Southern Political Science Association, is available to discuss Thursday's Supreme Court decision about President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning).

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He is co-author of "Justice Takes a Recess: Judicial Recess Appointments from George Washington to George W. Bush," where Howard and Scott E. Graves address how presidents have used recess appointments over time and whether the independence of judicial recess appointees is compromised. Additionally, along with Graves, he is co-author of "Ignoring Advice and Consent: Presidential Use of Judicial Recess Appointments."

Howard's take:

"The just announced Supreme Court decision in NLRB v. Canning (No. 12-­1281) while a defeat for these particular recess appointments of President Obama, nevertheless represents a victory for the ability of a president to make recess appointments.

By a 5-4 vote, the majority of the Court reaffirmed the right of a president to make recess appointments during relatively brief intrasession recesses as well as longer intersession recesses.

In this particular case, the court held that the Senate was not out of session during this three day break and therefore the president could not use the recess appointment power. While the ruling calls into question some of the NLRB decisions handed down during the period there will be little practical effect moving forward.

The Republican minority in the Senate had been using the filibuster to block almost all presidential appointments, forcing the president to use the recess appointment power. However, since the Senate abolished the filibuster for all but Supreme Court appointments, the President, at least until the next session of the new Congress, has no need to use the recess appointment power because all he needs is a simple majority for confirmation of all of his executive and judicial appointments, save the Supreme Court."

Howard is the editor of Justice System Journal and holds a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, earning a master's degree at the same institution. Additionally he holds a J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in Boston and a bachelor's degree in political science from Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

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