President Obama’s recess appointments to a federal agency– made without Senate confirmation– have been struck down by a federal appeals court as an unconstitutional use of executive power, CNN reports.
The three-judge panel unanimously concluded Friday three people named to the National Labor Relations Board lacked authority, because the presidential appointments were made while the Senate was technically in a “pro forma” session during the winter holiday break.
The case sets up a potential high-stakes Supreme Court fight between the executive and legislative branches.
Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the past have used the “virtual Congress” tactic to block unilateral appointments by the President when the Senate is away.
Republicans had claimed the appointments to the NLRB created a panel that was overly pro-union, and this ruling could invalidate hundreds of findings issued over the past year. The administration is expected to file an appeal to the Supreme Court in coming months.
And the court’s conclusions also put in jeopardy the recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Board, a move also being challenged in a separate lawsuit.