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Law in Plain English: National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning
This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.
Background: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or Board) found that Noel Canning violated section 8(a)(1) and (5) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by refusing to reduce to writing and execute a collective bargaining agreement reached with Teamsters Local 760 (the Union). Noel Canning appealed, alleging that the Board lacked authority to act for want of a quorum, as three members of the five-member Board were never validly appointed because they took office under recess appointments which were made when the Senate was not in recess. Second, it asserts that the vacancies these three members purportedly filled did not "happen during the Recess of the Senate," as required for recess appointments by the Constitution. The D.C. Circuitruled that the Board issuing the findings and order could not lawfully act, as it did not have a quorum.
Issue: The questions before the Court are (1) whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised during a recess that occurs within a session of the Senate, or is instead limited to recesses that occur between enumerated sessions of the Senate, and (2) whether the President’s recess-appointment power may be exercised to fill vacancies that exist during a recess, or is instead limited to vacancies that first arose during that recess.