Is Obama Diminishing the Presidency?

In today’s Wall Street Journal, I try to explain what President Obama’s stunning defeat at the hands of the D.C. Circuit over his recess appointments to the NLRB and the new Consumer Finance Protection Board means for the institution of the Presidency:

A year ago this month, President Obama bypassed the Senate’s advice-and-consent power by naming three new members to the National Labor Relations Board and appointing Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Mr. Obama declared that these were “recess” appointments even though the Senate—by its own definition—remained in session.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously struck down these unilateral appointments, but the three-judge panel’s decision in Noel Canning v. NLRB did more than knock a few people out of work and effectively nullify a year’s worth of rules that eased union organizing and regulated mortgages and credit cards.

Judge David Sentelle, given an opening by the unprecedented White House power grab, issued a ruling that has profound ramifications for the office of the presidency. He and judge Karen Henderson rejected the very idea of “intra-session recess appointments.” Mr. Obama thus has jeopardized a vital executive power for all future presidents.

To read more, you need a WSJ subscription. But even without reading the rest, do you agree that Mr. Obama, by using the President’s powers for short-term political gain, and not to address national security or emergencies, is actually diminishing the office?

  1. Spin

    I don’t know if he is or not.  But if he is, isn’t that a good thing?  The Office has too much power as it is.  If the path to returning some of the power that has been taken from Congress is a President who thumbs his nose at the constitution, thereby causing an over-correction by the courts, I’ll take it.  That last sentence was confusing, I know…

  2. Valiuth

    One can only hope. In a world where appointed officials of the executive can micromanage our lives I think it becomes ever more necessary to diminish unilateral presidential powers to run these organizations solely based on their individual whims. I think the idea of a president wielding fast domestic powers goes against the grain of all our natural institutions.

    I mean lets be honest here. If Democrats will have such an easy time capturing the presidency in the future, we might as well cripple the institution as much as possible. Lest they make full use of it to cripple the Nation. 

    Always take your victories where you can get them. 

  3. Casey

    Absolutely.  I think he’s made quite an effort to transfer the glory and power of the office to himself.  There’s really no way to make him give it back so we just have to take it away from the office.

  4. Gretchen

    Hasn’t he simply disregarded court decisions in the past? As when he shut down drilling in the Gulf?

  5. RightinChicago

    Do you really need to ask that question?

  6. 3rd angle projection

    I do. 

    And I can’t help but sense small tremors happening in the liberal/progressive camp. I think one obvious tremor came the second Hillary said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”. That was not a good moment for her.

    Then we have Hagel’s hearing today.

    In Reid’s world, the contracting economy is actually expanding.

    And listening to Carney everyday, particularly lately, is just stunning with his mangling of logic and language. It’s good times.

  7. RCE

    Yes.

  8. flownover

    Just look what he has done to the Senate . Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

    It is shameful and reeks of rank amateurism . At least I hope so. The grizzled face of Frances Piven haunts me . Like a cheap Vanessa Redgrave   doppelganger . They share a face now and an audience .

  9. Frederick Key

    I have to concur; the answer is likely yes, but it’s probably a good thing. The executive seems to have bulldozed the Constitution more than the other two branches combined, even with all the wheeling and dealing and emanations and penumbras and whatever. But then, presidents always have more pushback in term 2, and you could have gotten this impression from 2004-8 or 1984-8.

    The abuse of executive orders and the granting of preposterous powers to Cabinet members (and their hordes of subordinates) seem to be far more egregious; I want to see some of those rolled back before I’d think the presidency has been right-sized.

  10. Gretchen
    3rd angle projection: I do. 

    And I can’t help but sense small tremors happening in the liberal/progressive camp. I think one obvious tremor came the second Hillary said, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”. That was not a good moment for her.

    Then we have Hagel’s hearing today.

    In Reid’s world, the contracting economy is actually expanding.

    And listening to Carney everyday, particularly lately, is just stunning with his mangling of logic and language. It’s good times. · 2 hours ago

    And yet…

    I can’t but wonder if the part of the electorate that gets its news from non-conservative media are even aware of any of these things. Since the left, in addition to  the White House and the Senate and much of the judiciary, controls the information and entertainment media and the education establishment, all these things are kind of like the tree that falls in forest when nobody is there to  hear it. If they don’t report it, it might as well not have happened.

  11. Black Prince
    Colin B Lane: Yes. · 4 hours ago

    Second….actually, third (someone beat me to it).

  12. EThompson

    My observation is simply, thank God the D.C. Circuit Court has chosen to rescue the nation by reclaiming some of its’ constitutional powers.

  13. PracticalMary
    Year 5 and some finally get to this question? I would prefer articles from lawyers concerning how to fight- going for the jugular. Consult divorce lawyers, perhaps. Edited: http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/01/the_path_to_saving_the_republic_just_say_no.html
  14. Ralphie

    Yes, especially because he is regarded as a constitutional scholar (by those who are not).

  15. Colin B Lane

    But then again, he’s diminishing it in so many, different ways.

  16. Trace

    By constructing laws through the regulatory process and then having those laws be nullified or worse as is now the case, cast into an unclear  state, he has absolutely weakened more than just the recess appointment power, he has weakened the administrative state. The NLRB and CFPB continue making rules unfazed, which means that hundreds of suits could be in the offing by companies believing they should not have to obey various edicts. It will be death by 1,000 cuts, until the Supreme Court is called upon to either chastise or support the executive, precipitating a crisis that not only weakens the presidency, but weakens the Constitution. 

  17. Paul Dougherty

    I have to begrudgeoningly admit to some awe. I sense a level of cunning at play. Not only is he deteriorating the Presidency, but he is doing so in a manner that the popular perception is that it is his enemies inflicting the damage.

  18. Misthiocracy

    I’d say that he’s expanding the presidency and diminishing Congress.

  19. Will Collier

    Hmm.  How to answer this question without violating the Ricochet rules of conduct?

    How about:  “Do large ursine mammals excrete solid wastes in forested areas?”