Obama's Recess Appointments: Is the President Abusing His Power, or Gittin' R' Done? by LawCrossing


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Obama’s Recess Appointments: Is the President Abusing His Power, or Gittin’
R’ Done?
By Rebecca E. Neely

Two wrongs don’t make a right.

It seems this age old adage applies regarding Obama’s recent        The United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W.
recess appointments of Richard Cordray to direct the new            Gerard was quoted as having said in a recent interview about
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Sharon Block,             the President’s action: “Republicans left the President with
Richard Griffin, and Terence F. Flynn to serve on the National      no choice but to recess appoint these four people…President
Labor Relations Board.                                              Obama showed today that he will use every means at his
                                                                    disposal to circumvent Republican opposition to safeguarding
Why? Because it’s debatable about whether the Senate was in         workers and consumers. There is no question that each of
fact, in recession.                                                 the appointees is highly qualified – and should have garnered
                                                                    Senate approval – something that could have occurred if the
Republicans cried foul. They’ve been holding pro-forma              Republican minority did not use the filibuster to block every
sessions every few days, and pointed out during one of these        appointment. President Obama has shown he is willing to use
sessions, that, with just two members of the Senate on the          normal legal procedures to ensure the proper functioning of
floor, the Senate approved unanimously the bill to extend the       the U.S. government in the service of the American people.
2011 payroll tax cut for two months in 2012.                        The Steelworkers are proud that the president has confronted
                                                                    the Party of No.”
However, White House spokesman Jay Carney was quoted as
having said during a recent briefing: “The president’s counsel      However, Edwin Meese, who formerly served as U.S. attorney
has determined that the Senate has been in recess for weeks         general under President Ronald Reagan, and currently serves
and will be in recess for weeks. The Constitution provides          as chairman of the Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the
the president the right to make appointments during Senate          Heritage Foundation, wrote of the appointments, proving,
recesses, and the president will use that authority to make         beyond a shadow of a doubt that the pen is indeed mightier
this appointment.”                                                  than the sword: “The Senate was not in recess when these
                                                                    purported appointments were made. President Obama’s
The question then becomes, undoubtedly, who’s perpetrated           flagrant violation of the Constitution not only will damage
the greater wrong, which results in endless, useless finger         relations with Congress for years to come but will ultimately
pointing, but in the end, Democrat v. Republican, President v.      weaken the office of the presidency. There eventually may be
Senate, it’s the American people who pay the price in the form      litigation over the illegal appointments, but it will be a failure
of weakened leadership, or no leadership at all.                    of government if the political branches do not resolve this
                                                                    injustice before a court rules. To prevent future tyrannical
Opinions vary, as always, on the wisdom, or folly of Obama’s        usurpations of power, Congress must act to redress this
move. On one hand, Obama got ‘r done. Without these key             serious threat to our liberty.”
appointments, these important agencies would essentially
be inoperable. On the other hand, did the President shoot           Unfortunately, the appointments have become not about what
himself in the foot, politically? Is he weakening the office of     these knowledgeable individuals bring to the table and what
presidency, in general; is he in effect, sending a message          they can do to further the interests of the American people,
that it’s okay to do whatever is necessary to get his way?          but are instead shrouded in legal uncertainty and outrage,
What does this say to not just our nation’s current and future      which almost certainly weakens their ability to lead, and could
leaders, but young people all over the world, who quite             beget further delays in positive, forward movement. Once
literally, are the future?                                          again, it seems, the American people pay the price.

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It seems that to put a stop to such disagreements and abuses,       bring some clarity to the myriad, murky layers of conflicting
the decisions and choices of our government have to be more         agendas, opinions and motivations coloring the political and
about what’s best for the American people, rather than using        legislative landscape today.
them as leverage in a never ending battle for political control.
Perhaps considering what may result in the greater good could

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