WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court cast doubt Monday on President Barack Obama's use of a provision of the Constitution to make temporary appointments to high-level positions over the objection of Senate Republicans.
The court is writing on a blank slate as it considers for the first time the Constitution's recess appointments clause. That clause allows the president to fill vacancies temporarily, but only when the Senate is in recess.
The justices heard more than 90 minutes of arguments in a dispute over Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012. Republicans and employers who objected to board decisions made by those Obama appointees say the Senate was not in recess at the time Obama acted, and so any decisions made by the board were illegitimate.
Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. warned the court that it would essentially write the recess appointment power out of the Constitution if it found that those appointments were illegal.