Republicans and watchdog groups hailed the Supreme Court's decision Thursday that sharply reduces President Barack Obama's power to fill top government posts without Senate approval — calling the unanimous ruling a restoration of checks and balances guaranteed by the Constitution.
"This ruling is a victory for the Constitution, and against President Obama's aggressive overreach, which challenges our ability to effectively represent the people," House Speaker John Boehner said.
The Ohio Republican filed a brief to the high court in the case, which stemmed from a labor dispute involving a soft-drink bottler and the Teamsters Union in Washington state.
The company, Noel Canning, had appealed a decision from the National Labor Relations Board by questioning the legitimacy of three Obama appointments because they were made when the Senate was not formally in session.
"By invalidating these appointments, the Supreme Court has reaffirmed that the president cannot ignore the Constitution, and selectively interpret our rules and practices for his political purposes," Boehner said.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the justices beat back Obama's "unprecedented power grab."
"This administration has a tendency to abide by laws that it likes and to disregard those it doesn't," he said. "In this case, that disturbing and dangerous tendency extended to the Constitution itself."
The Kentucky senator joined 43 others in a brief to the high court in the case.
"Whether it's recess appointments or Obamacare, this troubling approach does serious damage to the rule of law — and the court's decision is a clear rebuke of the administration's behavior," McConnell said.
In the 9-0 ruling
, the justices concluded that the 2012 Obama appointments were unlawful. The decision limits the ability of presidents to make recess appointments without Senate approval, although the court did not go as far as it could have in restricting a president's powers.
The decision, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, could hamper the Obama administration should Republicans win control of the Senate in the November elections.
The GOP already controls the House — and the ruling is likely to make it tougher for the president to make appointments in the last two years of his term.
Obama made the appointments in January 2012 during the congressional winter break. However, the Senate said it was not in recess and was meeting every few days and ending sessions without conducting any business.
Republicans immediately challenged the appointments, and a federal appeals court ruled last year that two of the appointments were unconstitutional. The third appointee later resigned.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said Tuesday's decision was "encouraging for all who believe in the checks and balances enshrined in our nation's Constitution.
"The court is right to reject the president's political gamesmanship, which places the special interests of union bosses ahead of American workers and job creators," the California congressman said.
"The president knew his controversial nominees did not have the support needed to pass the Senate," said Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma. "He took matters into his own hands and ignored the will of the people, much like he has done on a number of other issues during his presidency.
"This ruling serves as a reminder that the Constitution will always govern this land and must be respected, even by the president."
Rep. Tom Price of Georgia cautioned that the many of the labor board's decisions since Obama made the appointments could be in jeopardy because of the court's decision.
"Because of the Obama administration's unwise and flagrant abuse of the recess appointment authority, multiple rulings by the NLRB could potentially be overturned in the wake of today's decision," he said. "Responsibility for whatever legal chaos and confusion may occur as a result lies entirely with President Obama and his administration."
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott says he would like to see re-trials of all the cases decided by the NLRB since the recess appointments were made, but he said he isn't hopeful that will happen.
"My fear is that you'll see the new board rubber stamping, in totality, all these decisions," Scott told Fox News.
Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said that the ruling went a long way in reminding Obama that "no matter how much he would like to bypass Congress, in the United States no man is above the law and our Constitution."
The American Center for Law and Justice represented Boehner in his brief. "The court made it clear that it is up to Congress to set its own rules, when it is in session and when it is not," said Jay Sekulow, the organization's chief counsel.
"By declaring the president's appointments to the NLRB invalid, the court sent a powerful message to the executive branch: The president just doesn't get to make up the rules when it comes to the operations of Congress."
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the decision made it clear that Obama "is not king." The group also filed a brief in the case.
"President Obama, in his lawlessness, has been acting as the 'catch-me-if-you-can president.' The Supreme Court, to its credit, finally caught and restrained Barack Obama's lawlessness.
"Unfortunately, these recess appointments are one of many examples of this president acting outside of his constitutional authority," Fitton said.
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