California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

Jun. 26 2014

Supreme Court Rules That Obama’s 2012 Recess Appointments to the NLRB Are Invalid

Topics: Court Decisions, Union-Management Relations

Today the United States Supreme Court issued its decision in NLRB v. Noel Canning, voiding President Obama’s 2012 recess appointments to the NLRB on the ground that the appointments exceeded the President’s constitutional authority.  In so holding, the Court affirmed the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal’s decision last year in the case.  However, the Court did not agree with the D.C. Circuit Court’s reasoning.  The D.C. Circuit Court had held that the recess appointments were invalid because the Senate was not actually in “recess” at the time and that the recess appointment power only applies to inter-session recesses, and then, only to vacancies that arise during such a recess (as opposed to vacancies existing at the time the recess commences).  By contrast, the Supreme Court held that the recess appointment power applies both to inter-session and intra-session recesses and is not limited to vacancies that arise during a recess.  However, the Court held that the recess must be of a sufficient length to trigger the recess appointment power.  The Court held that the break in the legislative session must be at least 10 or more days in order for recess appointments to be authorized.  In the case of the 2012 NLRB recess appointments, the appointments were made during a period when the Senate was convening every three days for pro forma sessions when no business was actually conducted.  The Court held:  “Three days is too short a time to bring a recess within the scope of the clause.  Thus we conclude that the president lacked the power to make the recess appointments here at issue.”

The Court’s voiding of the NLRB appointments invalidates many NLRB decisions and actions in which the 2012 recess appointees participated.  It is unclear how the NLRB with proceed as to the many affected matters.  However, NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce issued the following statement today:

“The Supreme Court has today decided the Noel Canning case.  We are analyzing the impact that the Court’s decision has on Board cases in which the January 2012 recess appointees participated.  Today, the National Labor Relations Board has a full contingent of five Senate-confirmed members who are prepared to fulfill our responsibility to enforce the National Labor Relations Act.  The Agency is committed to resolving any cases affected by today’s decision as expeditiously as possible.”

The Court’s full opinion in Noel Canning is available here.

About CDF

For over 20 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

> visit primary site

About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
> Contact   > Full Bio   Call 916.361.0991


Carothers DiSante & Freudenberger LLP © 2018

About CDFWhat We DoContact UsAttorney AdvertisingDisclaimer