A federal appeals court ruled today that President Obama violated the Constitution in making recess appointments last year, a decision could severely curtail the president's ability to bypass the Senate to fill administration vacancies. The three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in DC said Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session—and not in recess—at the time. The ruling also throws into question the legitimacy of Obama's recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The court ruled that the president could make recess appointments only when the Senate is in an official recess, which it defined as the once-a-year break between sessions of Congress. The decision "contradicts 150 years of practice by Democratic and Republican administrations," said White House spokesman Jay Carney. The Justice Department hinted that the administration would appeal the decision, made by three conservative judges, to the Supreme Court.