SUPCO Ruling on Executive Power Example of Problems with Antiquated System

Article ID: 619896

Released: 26-Jun-2014 11:00 AM EDT

Source Newsroom: Iowa State University

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  • Credit: Iowa State University

    David J. Andersen

David J. Andersen, an assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University, says the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama’s recess appointments is an example of modern government running into problems caused by a 200-year-old constitutional system.

“The framers never envisioned a Congress that would stay in session in Washington all year, and certainly never expected Congress and the president to have such a difficult time working together to ratify appointments.”

Andersen adds that the solution is forcing an up-or-down vote on all appointments, something that is already happening in the Senate.

“The Senate used to allow the minority party to filibuster every appointment, which led to Senate Republicans effectively blocking almost all of Obama's appointments. They recently changed the Senate rules so that the filibuster can now only be used on Cabinet-level appointments and Supreme Court nominees. That has alleviated the problem for now and allowed Obama's lower-level appointments to be voted on and 'solved' the issue of needing to resort to recess appointments for now.

“The real test is in the future, when the Senate majority is from a different party as the president. Our current level of partisanship will likely lead the Senate then to refuse to ratify any appointments. If the Senate refuses to ratify the president's appointments, we could be looking at a scenario where our government cannot populate any of its appointed positions with people. That hasn't happened in over a century, and will really force greater change. What that change will be is a big question.”

To arrange an interview, you can contact Andersen directly at 973-714-7415 or Angie Hunt in the ISU News Service office, 515-294-8986 or, can also assist with arrangements.


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