Pro forma sessions were not a problem when President Bush was in office and were encouraged by the LSM.


The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Monday in a case with potentially dramatic long-term implications for the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches.

The legal question is whether the president may temporarily appoint people to staff executive branch agencies when Congress is not conducting business but also not technically in recess — known as pro forma sessions. Noel Canning, a business based in Washington State, claims that actions taken against it by the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) are invalid because they relied on the decisions of recess appointees to the board who were put in place during pro forma sessions.

A decision against the Obama administration “would overturn the long-settled understanding of the Recess Appointments Clause, upsetting the equilibrium between the political branches created by our Constitution’s framers,” said Elizabeth Wydra, the chief counsel for the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal legal advocacy group.

Wydra called the lawsuit “ahistorical and myopic.”

A ruling against the government in NLRB v. Noel Canning stands to invalidate a series of NLRB actions aimed at cracking down on unfair business practices. Depending on the scope of the decision, government actions taken under previous presidents may also be implicated.

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