Today, the Supreme Court issued a long-awaited decision addressing the question of whether three recess appointees to the NLRB passed Constitutional muster. These three NLRB members were appointed by President Obama during a three-day recess in the middle of a Senate term, while it was still in a “pro forma” session. For all practical purposes, the recess appointments occurred over a long weekend. The Supreme Court found this to be an abuse of a procedure that was intended to be used in the rare circumstance where the Senate is out of session and the President needs to quickly appoint an executive branch employee in a position that cannot wait for the Senate to return to work. Notably, the Supreme Court did not decide exactly how long a Senate recess must be to qualify as a “legitimate” recess, but made clear that three days won’t cut it.
The result of this decision is that any NLRB Order issued during the tenure of these three recess appointees will be instantly called into question and potentially invalidated. That is a great “get out of jail free” card to the losing party in any Board litigation, and will likely keep lawyers busy for years sorting out the mess.