| WASHINGTON, April 25
WASHINGTON, April 25 Setting the stage for a
constitutional showdown, the Obama administration on Thursday
urged the Supreme Court to rule that presidents have broad
authority to make certain appointments without Senate approval.
If the nine justices agree to hear the dispute over
appointments President Barack Obama made to the National Labor
Relations Board last year, it will be one of the biggest issues
before the court in its next term, which will begin in October
and end in June 2014.
In January the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia Circuit ruled that three appointments to the panel,
which normally has five members, were invalid.
The appeals court agreed with Noel Canning, the bottling
company that challenged Obama's move, in finding that the
president did not have the authority to make the NLRB
appointments because the Senate was not technically in recess at
The U.S. Constitution allows the president to make
appointments when the Senate is in recess. Such appointments
expire at the end of the congressional session.
Backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Noel Canning argued
that an NLRB ruling against it was invalid because of the
appointments, which meant the board lacked a quorum.
Obama made his NLRB appointments on Jan. 4, 2012, when the
Senate was in session but not conducting business. The
congressional session began on Jan. 3, according to the Senate
In the brief filed on Thursday, Solicitor General Donald
Verrilli defended the recess appointment powers of the
president, disputing the court's conclusion that it can only be
used in the period between formal sessions of the Senate.
Presidents from both parties have used their recess
appointment authority to make appointments when the Senate is
not conducting business.
If the appeals court ruling was left to stand, it would
"dramatically curtail" the president's authority, Verrilli said.
In addition to limiting presidential power, the ruling meant
that the NLRB did not have the required quorum to make
decisions, casting doubt on all its actions and rulings since
Obama made the appointments.
The ruling "threatens a significant disruption of the
federal government's operations," Verrilli wrote.
The high court will decide whether to hear the case after
lawyers for Noel Canning file a response, which is due within 30