Sunday, February 3, 2013

Yakima Company Turns Recess Appointments Upside Down

Noel Canning, a long time canning and bottling company in Yakima recently won a court case in the US Court of Appeals HERE that has major constitutional and governance implications /wonkblog/wp/2013/01/25/court-decision-on-recess-appointments-could-make-america-harder-to-govern/.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had ruled against Noel Canning regarding a disagreement with the Teamsters Local 760 by adopting an Administrative Law Judge decision in the case against Noel Canning. Noel Canning appealed the NLRB ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The Court ruled on two matters: first was whether Noel Canning had violated labor laws. In that the Court agreed Noel Canning did in fact violate the two labor laws in question. Hence, there was no statutory relief and that opened the door for a Constitutional decision by the court.

The Court ruled that Congress was in session when the President made the recess appointments of NLRB members and therefore the appointments were not valid. The President made the appointments even though Congress was essentially out of town and only holding pro forma meetings to claim they were in session and not in recess. This approach would never fly with the school attendance office, but it was good enough for Congress and the Court of Appeals.

Without the appointments to the NLRB, the NLRB can not make any rulings at all because the NLRB currently does not have enough members. Hence, any rulings over the past year may be at risk and no additional rulings may take place. All because the US Senate has blocked appointments, not by voting "no", but by simply allowing rules that block a vote from ever taking place.

The situation is we have laws on the books (in this particular case on the books for decades) that were clearly violated, but no enforcement can be done due to procedural maneuvers by sometimes individual Senators blocking any appointments. Yes, I know they are Republicans doing the blocking. 

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