Angiuli & Gentile, LLP
We’ll Take It From Here. 347-201-4447

Court Rules Obama Appointments Unconstitutional

On January 4, 2012, President Barack Obama appointed Richard Cordray to serve as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and appointed three new members to the National Labor Relations Board.

However, in a unanimous three-judge decision, the Federal Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled that President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board were unconstitutional.

A recess appointment is an appointment by the President of the United States, of a senior federal official while the United States Senate is in recess.

The United States Constitution requires that the most senior federal officers must be confirmed by the Senate before taking office. When the Senate is in recess the President frequently acts alone by making a recess appointment.

While Presidents have the absolute authority to make recess appointments without Senate approval, the question becomes, what actually constitutes a "recess"?

The problem arises when the Senate holds "pro-forma" sessions. Even though little to no work is done at many of these sessions, which may last no more then 10 seconds after the banging of the gavel, a pro-forma session counts as an actual Senate session. In this way, the session avoids being characterized as a recess.

In the past, as long as President didn't abuse the power, Presidents and Senates interpreted "sessions" liberally, so that officials could be appointed when the Senate was empty but still expected to return for business.

There are those who argue that these pro-forma sessions are a sham and violate the spirit of the law. On the other hand as Chief Judge David B. Sentelle opined, the recess appointments would give 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."

The court further stated that the Constitution's reference to "the Recess" means that appointments are allowed only during the recess between sessions of the Senate, not when the Senate is simply on a break. It was not up to the President to decide what constitutes a recess.

The issue seems certain to end up before the Supreme Court for a determination on how far the President can go in appointing individuals whose nominations may otherwise have been blocked by the Senate.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Success Stories

  • A 43 year old ironworker who fell four stories and sustained injuries to his ankle while installing a staircase settled his claim for $1,500,000.00. The accident was due to the failure of the building owner and general contractor to provide a safe place to work.
  • A construction worker operating an asphalt roller settled his case for $525,000.00 when the edge of the roadway he was paving collapsed into a trench being dug by a subcontractor causing him to sustain injuries to his leg.
  • A 54 year old commuter settled his case against the NYCTA for $1,200,000.00. when he tripped and fell on a subway platform due to the pavement being in disrepair, causing him to fall forward and to strike his head on a train pulling into the station.
  • The estate of a 64 year old woman received a settlement of $425,000.00 after she was struck and killed by a speeding tractor trailer while crossing the street at the intersection of Richmond Terrace and Port Richmond Avenue.
  • A $1,200,000.00 settlement was reached on behalf of a 54 year old man from Staten Island, New York, who, while in the course of his employment as a bus driver, was rear-ended on the Garden State Parkway and caused to suffer injuries to his back and neck as well as a fractured rib and fractured pelvis.
  • A 47-year-old building superintendent who sustained injuries to his head and right side of his body due to a tripping hazard at his job site received a settlement of $300,000.00 from the electrical company performing work at the site.
  • A 43 year old construction worker was caused to sustain injuries to his back, shoulder and hand when the elevator he was riding malfunctioned and dropped 8 floors. He received $350,000.00 in the settlement of his claim against the building owner, maintenance company and elevator company.
  • The administrator of the estate of a 69 year old man who suffered stage four pressure sores while a patient at a Queens nursing home settled the case for $400,000.00 after the man died.
View More

You Can Trust Angiuli & Gentile to Make a Difference

Schedule Your Consultation

Email Us to Get the Answers You Need

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

Office Locations

Angiuli & Gentile, LLP
60 Bay Street, Penthouse Floor
Staten Island, NY 10301

Phone: 347-201-4447
Phone: 718-816-0005
Fax: 718-442-6408
Staten Island Law Office Map

Staten Island Office
1481 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10305

Phone: 347-201-4447
Phone: 718-816-0005
Staten Island Law Office Map