ABC-led Coalition Wins Court Challenge to NLRB “Recess” Appointments

The ABC-led Coalition for a Democratic Workplace (CDW) Jan. 25 won a challenge to President Obama’s Jan. 4, 2012, recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the president violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill NLRB vacancies with Democrats Sharon Block and Richard Griffin.

“Under this president’s administration, the NLRB has been transformed from a neutral arbiter of labor law disputes into an activist organization whose only goal is to promote the special interests of politically powerful unions,” said ABC Vice President of Federal Affairs Geoff Burr. “This ruling will invalidate decisions unlawfully made over the past year by the NLRB and allow them to be heard by an unbiased panel.”

The case was brought by Noel Canning, a Washington state bottling company, which argued the president abused his power and undermined the Senate’s advice and consent role on nominations when he appointed the board members. Specifically, Noel Canning challenged an NLRB decision that it must enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a labor union. The company and CDW  argued the board did not have a quorum to issue a decision because the recess appointments were invalid.

The CDW intervened in the case and filed its opening joint brief with Noel Canning in September. In addition, 42 Republican Senators and the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) filed amicus briefs in October echoing Noel Canning and CDW’s arguments that because the Senate was not in session when the recess appointments were made, they are unconstitutional. 

“The president’s decision to bypass the U.S. Senate and appoint pro-union activist members to the NLRB was a political, partisan act that had to be challenged,” Burr said. “We are thankful the court ruled on the side of the Constitution.