On Thursday in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court limited the president’s authority to fill high-level positions with temporary appointments, ruling against Obama in his partisan clash with Senate Republicans who have long disapproved of the actions.
The decision is the first-ever involving the Constitution’s recess appointment clause and was centered around Obama’s 2012 appointments to the National Labor Relations Board without Senate confirmation. Obama invoked the Constitutional provision which gives the president the power to make temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess, however the court ruled that the appointments were illegal.
Obama argued that the Senate was in an extended recess and was only holding brief sessions every few days in order to prevent him from making recess appointments. However the court decided that the Senate was not actually in a formal recess and therefor Obama had no authority to bypass them.
The ruling’s impact may be felt by the White House next year should Republicans be able to capture control of the Senate. While the president has the power to make appointments to important positions, Republicans would be able to block their confirmation, leaving Obama with fewer options to fill the vacancies.