Tell Congress to Condemn Obama’s Unconstitutional Appointments!

Tell Congress to Condemn Obama’s
Unconstitutional Appointments!

 January 10, 2012

President Obama began 2012 by making four unconstitutional appointments. On January 4th, Obama appointed Richard Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a nomination Republicans blocked shortly before adjourning for Christmas.  Obama also appointed three people to the National Labor Relations Board.  Obama claimed these appointments were necessary “recess appointments.” The Constitution does allow Presidents to fill vacancies while the Senate is in recess.  There’s one problem, the Senate was not in recess when Obama made these appointments!

As this op-ed by Former Attorney General Edwin Meese and the Heritage Foundation’s Todd Gaziano notes, “Article I, Section 5, of the Constitution states that neither house of Congress may adjourn for more than three days without the consent of the other house.”

The House of Representatives did not consent to a recess longer than three days at the end of last year.  Thus, the Senate is required to hold “pro forma” sessions in which some business is conducted, and Senators can vote via designated representatives during long periods of adjournment.  As Meese and Gaziano point out, President Obama acknowledged that the Senate was still in a valid lawmaking session when he signed into law a piece of legislation passed by the Senate during a “pro forma” session on December 23, 2011. 

Conservative leadership in the House and Senate issued scathing condemnations of the President’s actions.  House Speaker John Boehner issued a statement in which he declared:

This is an extraordinary and entirely unprecedented power grab by President Obama that defies centuries of practice and the legal advice of his own Justice Department.  The precedent that would be set by this cavalier action would have a devastating effect on the checks and balances that are enshrined in our Constitution.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell noted that two of the NLRB appointments were particularly egregious, because they were nominated only two days before the Senate adjourned, thus never had time to hold hearings on or debate those nominations:

 “. . . what the President did today sets a terrible precedent that could allow any future President to completely cut the Senate out of the confirmation process, appointing his nominees immediately after sending their names up to Congress. This was surely not what the framers had in mind when they required the President to seek the advice and consent of the Senate in making appointments.”

Take Action

Meese and Gaziano conclude their Op-Ed declaring that Congress must address President Obama’s unconstitutional appointments.

Your Congressional Representatives are at home this week.  Please call or visit their district offices, or attend a Town Hall meeting if any are scheduled, and tell them to urge House and Senate leadership to take action on this issue.


Further Reading


Say NO to Obama’s Unconstitutional Appointments!

We applaud House and Senate Republicans for swiftly condemning President Obama’s attempt to circumvent Congress and the Constitution by attempting to pass of appointments as recess appointments when the Senate was not in recess.

Please urge leadership to take legislative action immediately upon returning to Washington to show the American people you will not allow the President to ignore the Constitution!