Justice Deptartment backs legality of Obama appointments

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 12, 2012 11:23 AM
Justice Deptartment backs legality of Obama appointments

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama was within his constitutional authority to make recess appointments to two agencies even though the U.S. Senate was holding periodic pro forma sessions, Justice Department lawyers said in a legal opinion released on Thursday.

The department's Office of Legal Counsel said that the only way the Senate could block such appointments is by "remaining continuously in session" rather than the pro forma sessions "at which no business is to be conducted."

Obama last week used his constitutional power to install a new chief at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, along with three members of the National Labor Relations Board. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been considering challenging the constitutionality of such appointments.

(Reporting By Jeremy Pelofsky; Editing by Sandra Maler)