Federal Judges Question NLRB Recess Appointments

Richard Griffin /
December 6, 2012

Federal appeals court judges are questioning President Barack Obama’s January intrasession recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, according to the Washington Times.

Mr. Obama argued that since the full Senate wasn’t actually meeting regularly, lawmakers were technically in an intra-session ‘recess’ and he could use his constitutional power to make appointments not needing the chamber’s consent. But two judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit questioned not only that move, but every recess appointment made other than during a traditional inter-session recesses that close out each year.

In response to the Obama Administration’s precedent argument, Judge Thomas Griffith said, "Forget about a century of precedent—go back to the Constitution."

Senate Republicans warned Obama last December against NLRB recess appointments in a letter. "The move was a big score for labor and Obama’s allies on the left, who congratulated the president for muscling past Republicans bent on blocking his agenda," according to Politico.

One of Obama’s recess appointees, Richard Griffin, served as general counsel for the International Union of Operating Engineers. The union has seen over 60 of its members arrested, indicted, or jailed in the last decade for everything from extortion and workplace sabotage to labor racketeering and running a criminal enterprise. Federal prosecutors alleged in 2003 that two mafia families had taken control of two of the UIOE locals. Fox News reported:

In some of the more egregious examples, federal prosecutors alleged in February 2003 that the Genovese and Colombo crime families wrested control of two IUOE locals and stole $3.6 million from major New York area construction projects — including the Museum of Modern Art and minor league baseball stadiums for the Yankees and Mets in Staten and Coney Islands.

Sharon Block, another Obama appointees, used to work for Sen. Edward Kennedy (D., Mass.) on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions before leaving for the Labor Department to serve as deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs.

The NLRB has been criticized under Obama for its decision regarding Boeing’s plan to move production from Washington state to South Carolina.