Tim is right that today’s DC Circuit Court ruling on the NLRB appointments is “a humiliating rebuke for [Barack] Obama.” It also reads well, with solid textual analysis supporting its interpretation of the “Recess Clause.” That said, its holdings are so sweeping — both as to what constitutes “the Recess” of the Senate and as to what it means that a vacancy can be filled by such appointment (only) if it “happen[s]” during the Recess — that while they certainly make sense in law and logic, they may go so far as to violate enough existing practice as to make the full circuit en banc or the Supreme Court to reject the full scope of the ruling. Being a realist, I can certainly see a final result that narrows the scope of this ruling (and of it definition of “Recess” and “happen”), but that still throws out Obama’s appointments and still upholds the main thrust of today’s ruling, which is that there are serious limits to the “Recess appointment” power.
But allow just a little further prediction. When the high court so rules, and Obama’s “humiliation” is confirmed, The One in the Oval Office will have a conniption fit. As it so happens, such a high court ruling will probably be just one in a series of about five or six key decisions in the next 18-24 months that will go directly against Obama administration arguments, actions, and abuses. Look, therefore, for Obama to resurrect his constitutionally dangerous, full-frontal assault against the Supreme Court and the courts in general, trying to undermine their very legitimacy. In fact, so unhinged may be Obama’s power lust that he might even try to openly defy an explicit Supreme Court ruling, maybe even citing Andrew Jackson’s infamous (perhaps apocryphal) statement from Worcester v. Georgia that the chief justice “has made his decision; now let him enforce it.”
In short, I see in this and other developing cases the potential for serious constitutional crisis, brought on by Obama’s authoritarian impulses. I hope I’m wrong.