Supreme Court reins in president's
Send a link to a friend
[March 22, 2017]
By Daniel Wiessner and Lawrence Hurley
(Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on
Tuesday put new restrictions on presidential powers, limiting a
president's authority to staff certain top government posts in a case
involving an appointment to the National Labor Relations Board.
The court decided 6-2 to uphold a lower court's ruling that
then-President Barack Obama exceeded his legal authority with his
temporary appointment of an NLRB general counsel in 2011.
In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court said that under
the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a person cannot serve as the acting
head of a federal agency once the president nominates him or her to
permanently serve in the role if it is a position that requires U.S.
SW General Inc, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based private ambulance company
and a subsidiary of Envision Healthcare Holdings Inc <EVHC.N>, had
challenged the makeup of the NLRB as it sought to invalidate a board
ruling that said it violated federal labor law by discontinuing bonus
payments for longtime employees.
The NLRB had argued that the law's restriction applied only to
politically appointed "first assistants" who are first in line for
acting positions when the heads of agencies leave office, and not to
The ruling will give President Donald Trump and future presidents less
flexibility in filling jobs that require Senate confirmation.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, saying the
court ignored the fact that since the law governing vacancies was
adopted in 1998, more than 100 people have served in acting roles while
the U.S. Senate considered their nominations for permanent jobs.
[to top of second column]
The U.S. Supreme Court building seen in Washington May 20, 2009.
The case focused on Obama's appointment of Lafe Solomon as the
NLRB's acting general counsel to fill a vacancy in the job. The
position requires Senate confirmation.
Obama nominated Solomon to fill the position permanently but also
named him to fill in for former general counsel Ronald Meisburg, who
resigned in 2010, in the interim while awaiting Senate action. Obama
eventually withdrew Solomon's nomination after it stalled for more
than two years. The Senate ultimately confirmed Richard Griffin to
the post in 2013.
SW General argued that Solomon should not have continued to fill the
position on a temporary basis pending Senate confirmation, and the
Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed.
The case is National Labor Relations Board v. SW General Inc, U.S.
Supreme Court No. 15–1251.
(Reporting by Daniel Wiessner in Albany, New York, Editing by Alexia
Garamfalvi and Jonathan Oatis)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.