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The Absurdity Behind President Obama’s Non-Recess Appointments

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

In reading some of the news coverage and commentary concerning President Obama’s non-recess appointments of Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) you would think they had waited months and even years under so-called “obstructionism” in the U.S. Senate. In reality, anyone who undertook an objective analysis of the situation would have come to the conclusion that the administration’s complete disregard for the Constitution by ignoring the Senate’s advice and consent responsibility was a total handout to the Big Labor bosses bankrolling the president’s campaign.

Let’s be clear, there isn’t much room for any other interpretation. Union bosses invested half a billion dollars in 2008 to elect President Obama and he has bent over backwards to pay them back. In the process, he has sent the message to workers and small businesses that the current leadership in the nation’s capital is an adversary, not an ally.

An example of the flawed and absolutely ridiculous commentary associated with the non-recess appointments was an editorial published in The Washington Posttitled, “Obama’s Justifiable ‘Power Grab’ on Recess Appointments.” The editorial writers at the Post claim it is “inexcusable that congressional obstructionism would leave [agencies of the U.S. government] unable to function.” This line alone demonstrates a disturbing level detachment from the facts and a total misunderstanding of reality.

The simple truth that eluded the Post was just a Google search away. Had editors done their research they would have found Richard Griffin and Sharon Block were nominated to the NLRB on December 15th, hours before Senators left the nation’s capital even though the Congress continued to convene in pro forma sessions. These nominees received non-recess appointments a few weeks later. There was no obstructionism. None. And any claim that there was is deeply misinformed or absolutely dishonest.

In fact, it wasn’t even possible for obstruction to take place as the Senate never received the obligatory paperwork for Griffin or Block, and their background questionnaires went uncompleted. Therefore, we know much less than we should about these individuals who will decide the fate of key labor issues confronting employers and unions in the private sector.

Where was the outrage when the Republican nominees to the NLRB waited extended periods of time to receive votes in the Democratic-run Senate? Both Terence Flynn and Brian Hayes waited nearly a year to obtain a post on the regulatory agency, yet opponents of “obstructionism” were largely silent. When Griffin and Block sat through the holidays, Congressional obstructionism was “inexcusable.”

The Obama Administration’s defense of the indefensible non-recess appointments is borderline comical. The White House had its Office of Legal Counsel within the Department of Justice release an opinion which was officially dated after the non-recess appointments had been made and directly contradicts an opinion issued by the same Office of Legal Counsel in President Clinton’s Justice Department.

The opinion at least had the candor to say “[t]he question is a novel one, and the substantial arguments on each side create some litigation risk for such appointments.”

Litigation risk? That would be accurate considering the non-recess appointments were disputed by none other than Obama’s own solicitor general office before the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a gross abuse of power by President Obama and just as disturbing, media bought the fictitious arguments and failed to do their homework.

Obama used Richard Cordray’s recess appointment to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as a front for his effort to reward campaign donors he needs to compete this fall. He wrapped a giveaway to labor bosses in a blanket of consumer protection and that was obvious to anyone who wanted to see. And in the process, the president of the United States completely mortgaged any credibility on the economy and exposed himself as nothing more than a pawn of the same special interests he derided three years ago.

What may be one of the most “inexcusable” elements of the non-recess appointments of Richard Griffin and Sharon Block to the NLRB is the highly questionable reporting and opining in media outlets that has cheated readers of a complete and accurate accounting of a very serious matter that upends our nation’s system of checks and balances. They deserved better.

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