On Friday a federal appeals court ruled President Barack Obama violated the Constitution when he appointed and place three officials on the National Labor Relations Board last January. The appointments had not been approved by the U. S. Senate as required by the Constitution because of perceived bias of the nominees.
While many Presidents have in the past made appointments without Senate approval during times of recess President Obama took the unprecedented step of declaring the Senate in recess so that he could make the appoints. It is not within the authority of the President to declare a recess of the Senate.
The federal court affirmed the violation to the Constitution in very clear and precise language saying, “An interpretation of ‘the recess’ that permits the president to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the president free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction,” wrote Judge David B. Sentelle. “This cannot be the law.”
It is the sworn duty of the President to abide by the Constitution and clearly in this case President Obama failed, although in his defense he did use what has been characterized as a “flimsy interpretation of the law”. There is little doubt the move was taken to subvert and evade the authority of the Senate. The President has said on occasion, “If Congress will not act, I will” but he must understand as President he has some constraints on his authority under our Constitution.
In reaction to the ruling many members of the press called it a defeat for the President and a win for Republicans. That is more than a small stretch of the truth. It was a defeat for any President taking such action, be they Democrat or Republican. It was a win not for a political party, but for the American people.
It is precisely this type of Constitutional erosion by a President that James Madison spoke of when he said, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.”
When any President fails to act in accordance with the Constitution he should be opposed by every member of Congress. The issue is not about party politics it is about the protection and preservation of the rights of the American people and our very foundation of government. It is the duty and responsibility of all elected leaders to put aside party politics and affiliation when the question becomes constitutional.
Theodore Roosevelt gave advice that should be held in high regard and followed by every member of Congress when he said, “Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does NOT mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently served the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country.”
The Connecticut Congressional delegation would do well to heed the words of Theodore Roosevelt and to be mindful of the words of Thomas Paine, “It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”