High court sets date for presidential appointments case

The U.S Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over President Obama’s controversial use of his recess appointment powers on Jan. 13, 2014, the court announced.

The high court declared in June that it would take up an appeals court’s ruling that voided Obama's 2012 appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), setting up a major fight over the president’s ability to appoint his nominees to high-profile positions while the Senate is not in session.

Obama made the appointments during a three-week stretch while the Senate was in recess.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declared in January that the appointments were unconstitutional, and that a president can only make recess appointments while the Senate is in between formal sessions, not during brief breaks in its calendar.

Conservatives have cheered that decision. They say that Obama ignored the Senate’s “advise and consent” role when he made the appointments last year. 

If the ruling is upheld, it could have major consequences for the labor board, potentially voiding much of the work done over its last year and a half. The Senate has since approved replacements for the disputed members. One former board member, however, was recently confirmed by the Senate to be the NLRB’s general counsel and sworn in this week.

A decision to uphold the appeals court’s ruling could also severely limit the president’s ability to add people to his administration without Senate consent.

The case before the Supreme Court is NLRB v. Noel Canning.