U.S. Supreme Court issues ruling on NLRB recess appointments


On June 26, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling invalidating three recess appointments made by President Obama in 2012 to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in NLRB v. Noel Canning. The Court ruled unanimously that the three-day breaks between the senate’s Pro Forma sessions are too short to be considered a recess of the senate, so the constitution’s recess-appointments clause does not permit the president to act during this time to make appointments requiring senate approval. Justice Stephen Breyer said that a congressional break must last at least ten days to be considered a recess. This was the Court’s first decision about the scope of the president’s power to make recess appointments.

The Court’s ruling means that any decisions the three NLRB commissioners participated in are now invalid. Therefore, the Court’s ruling could have far-reaching implications, not only for the numerous employers who were involved in cases before the unconstitutional board, but also for those employers affected by those decisions.

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