A Federal Appeals Court ruled on Friday that President Obama’s recess appointment of three National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) members was unconstitutional. If this is actually upheld, we will be declaring ourselves ungovernable.
Here’s some backstory. The NLRB is a five person panel that mediates unfair labor practices and conducts union elections. In order for the NLRB to make decisions, at least three board members must be in attendance. By the end of 2011, due to term expirations, there were only two members left on the board. Republicans filibustered the President’s three nominees effectively making the NLRB useless since it couldn’t call a quorum. Republicans, using a technicality, also refused to recess the Senate for the Christmas holidays which should prevent President Obama from making recess appointments. Despite that, Obama declared that the Senate was actually in recess and made three recess appointments to the NLRB. The NLRB now had the quorum it needed to conduct business and it has been doing so ever since. The Federal Appeals Court’s ruling said that Obama’s appointments were unconstitutional.
If the Appeals Court ruling stands, every decision the NLRB has made in the past year will be invalidated. Every case that was decided will have to be redone on top of all the new cases that come before the board. Assuming, of course, that Republicans will actually allow a vote for new board members. Which is suspect. This effectively makes unions useless. Which was probably the plan all along.