Without getting into the weeds of the Supreme Court’s unanimous opinion striking down President Obama’s “recess” appointments to the NLRB, I think it important to point out exactly what it is Obama’s reckless actions have wrought, and what they expose about his own opinions of himself.
No reasonable person could have thought that Obama’s interpretation of the Recess Appointments Clause was correct. I, along with virtually every other sane legal commentator, predicted at the time that Obama’s reckless and blatant usurpation of power would be unanimously overturned by the Supreme Court. Certainly, the Recess Appointments Clause contains some levels of ambiguity, but when deciding whether the Senate is in recess, as between the President and the Senate, only a narcissist drunk with power (the sort of person who would, say, name his dog after himself) would assert that the President has the right to make that call.
I cannot believe that Obama at the time was so completely surrounded by sycophants that no one explained to him that his course of action was doomed to total and certain failure. I suspect that he had some inkling of it himself, and that he did it really as a move to appease his base. Keep in mind that these particular recess appointments were not even necessary, as I explained at the time:
Consider the astonishing timeline here – Obama submitted the names of his proposed appointments two weeks ago – two weeks ago – there has been no filibuster of the appointments; there hasn’t even been a cloture vote scheduled. The Senate hasn’t taken any action one way or another because there’s this holiday that happens in the last two weeks of December that some Americans celebrate, but Reid has kept the Senate in pro forma session, including regular meetings, to preserve the Senate’s prerogative to advise and consent on Obama’s nominees, as it is absolutely and beyond caveat the Senate’s prerogative to do. Thus, despite the fact that the Senate isn’t even dragging its feet on these appointments, and despite the fact that the Senate has been adamant that it is not in recess, Obama has arrogated to himself the power to declare the Senate in recess for them and short circuit the entire Constitutional process for Senate confirmation of Constitutional officers.
So in spite of the fact that there was neither a practical nor political reason for Obama to have done what he did, and despite the fact that he must have either known or had reasonable people telling him that this would eventually come to ruin, he proceeded to rush ahead and do it anyway, I guess to prove to the Senate that he was a tough and serious person, regardless of what they might think from watching him throw out the first pitch at any number of baseball games.
And now what? Here we are, over two full years later, and the NLRB has wasted only God knows how many dollars hearing cases and issuing decisions that are all null and void. More troubling, the businesses that have come before the NLRB have had to waste time, legal fees, and face considerable uncertainty about their futures, all for nothing. Even worse, they are going to have to go through the entire exacting process again. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama wasted time and taxpayer money, and crippled nunerous businesses, for literally no reason other than to send out a pointless bragging fundraiser email blast.
Our President, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t know about you, but I kind of hope he never pivots back to the economy again.