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Supreme Court Unanimously Rebukes the ‘Lawless President’

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Committee for Justice (CFJ) President Curt Levey has reacted with strong words on today’s Supreme Court decision striking down President Obama’s unconstitutional recess appointments to the NLRB:

Despite broad criticism of President Obama’s overreaching use of executive power — involving ObamaCare, immigration policy and EPA regulations, to name just a few examples — many progressives have defended his “I’ve got a pen and a phone” strategy of bypassing Congress. But at the Supreme Court today, there was no defense.

Not a single liberal Justice could find a reason to uphold one of the prime examples of Obama’s overreach: his attempt to expand, beyond credulity, the President’s power to make recess appointments — by declaring that he, rather than the Senate, should determine when a recess occurs.

In one sense, the unanimity of today’s decision striking down Obama’s interpretation of the recess power is remarkable. Judges are generally reluctant to strike down an action by one of the three branches of government as a violation of the separation of powers, as the Justices did today. The fact that the Court ruled unanimously here, despite the typical reluctance, bodes well for current and future legal challenges to other instances of Obama Administration overreach.

However, in another sense, today’s unanimous decision should not be that surprising, because virtually all legal analysts assumed the NLRB recess appointments at issue would be found to be unconstitutional. The only question — including among the nine Justices today (see Justice Scalia’s concurrence) — was precisely what limits the Courts should put on the recess appointment power.

Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago, must also have been aware that while the precise limits on the power were debatable, there was no serious question about which side of the line his NLRB appointments fell on. So what is really remarkable is that Obama made the appointments anyway, then thumbed his nose at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit when it soundly rebuked him for doing so.

Perhaps that attitude explains why so many people describe Obama as a “lawless” President.

The Court’s opinion in this case (NLRB v. Noel Canning) can be found here.  

The Committee for Justice (CFJ), with more than 200,000 members and supporters is America’s largest and most influential conservative legal and legislative action organization dedicated to holding America’s political leaders accountable to the law and the Constitution.

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