"Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure." Thomas Jefferson
It was decided today by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that Obama violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill vacancies on a labor relations panel.
Obama made the appointments after Senate Republicans spent months blocking his choices for an agency they contended was biased in favor of unions. The ruling now puts into question Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which has been challenged in a separate case.
Arguments were given on behalf of the petitioner Noel Canning, a division of the Noel Corporation by Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice as an amicus curiae and house speaker John Boehner made an appearance in support of petitioner. Also present on the the brief for amici curiae for the petitioner was Glenn M. Taubman, William L. Messenger, Richard P.Hutchison, and Mark R. Levin of the Landmark Legal Foundation.
Some of the more notable arguments on behalf of the petitioner included the following:
"When interpreting a constitutional provision, we must look to the natural meaning of the text as it would have been understood at the time of the ratification of the Constitution.” Citing a ruling on District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783, 2788 (2008).
"Thus, background documents to the Constitution (referring to the Federalist Papers), in addition to the language itself, suggest that “the Recess” refers to the period between sessions that would end with the ensuing session of the Senate."
"The available evidence shows that no President attempted to make an intrasession recess appointment for 80 years after the Constitution was ratified."
"It is well established that for at least 80 years after the ratification of the Constitution, no President attempted such an appointment, and for decades thereafter, such appointments were exceedingly rare."
Citing a case against the IRS, the Court said: "“The manipulation of official appointments had long been one of the American revolutionary generation’s greatest grievances against executive power, because the power of appointment to offices was deemed the most insidious and powerful weapon of eighteenth century despotism.”
"We will not do violence to the Constitution by ignoring the Framers’ choice of words."
"Allowing the President to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers.
While the DOJ indicated that the Obama Administration will most likely appeal today's decision and ask the Supreme Court to overturn the decision, the case was a major victory and if it stands, it could invalidate more than 600 board decisions issued over the past year. Since the board is allowed to issue decisions only when it has at least three sitting members, having only one member would effectively shut down the board all together.
Today's decision is also a victory for our Constitution.
You can read the whole case decision here: http://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/D13E4C2A7B33B57A85257AFE00556B29/$file/12-1115-1417096.pdf
C.E., O.O. 2013