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Supreme Court slightly curtails president's recess appointment power

The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that though the president does have the authority to make temporary recess appointments, Congress can stymie that power by declining to go on break.

In a unanimous decision, the court said the president had overstepped his authority in 2012 by appointing new members to the National Labor Relations Board while Congress was in a pro forma recess — essentially a ceremonial session. Republicans held a such a session over the legislature's winter break specifically to block recess appointments, though Obama tried to squeeze in his picks anyway, arguing that a pro forma session was more or less a recess.

Here's the relevant bit from the high court's opinion:

In our view, however, the pro forma sessions count as sessions, not as periods of recess. We hold that, for pur­poses of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business. The Senate met that standard here. [Supreme Court]