Scalia Rips Into Obama’s ‘Self Interested’ Use Of Executive Power

|
January 13, 2014 12:15 p.m.

Justice Antonin Scalia on Monday tore into President Barack Obama’s use of recess appointments to staff government agencies when the Senate is unofficially on recess.

During oral arguments, Scalia shot back at an argument by U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli that the Constitution’s recess appointments clause is ambiguous enough to validate Obama’s temporary appointments.

“It’s been assumed to be ambiguous by self-interested presidents,” Scalia said, to “oohs” and laughs in the court room.

Scalia argued emphatically that the text of the Constitution does not permit presidents to appoint individuals to government agencies during pro forma sessions — when the Senate technically gavels in and out to fulfill a constitutional requirement, but does not conduct any business. He suggested the power ought to be restricted to official recesses.

“Let’s assume I think the text is clearly against you,” the Reagan-appointed justice told Verrilli during a lengthy back-and-forth early in the arguments, saying a president would have to “ignore the Constitution” to justify recess appointments during pro forma sessions.

The case was National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning.

It wasn’t the first time Scalia has directly taken aim at Obama. In 2012, his written dissent in the case about Arizona’s immigration law criticized Obama’s executive decision to halt deportations for some undocumented immigrants.

Latest Dc
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Investigations Desk:
Reporters:
Newswriters:
Audience Development Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: