Recess Appointment

January 6, 2012 by staff 

Recess AppointmentRecess Appointment, White House spokesman Jay Carney refused Thursday to explain the administration’s legal justification for President Barack Obama’s attempted recess appointment on Wednesday of three Democratic allies to government positions, but instead dared Republicans — including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — to campaign against the president’s decision.

The GOP may try to argue that the appointments violate the Constitution, said Carney, but “they seem to believe that after all we went through in 2007 and 2008 … Wall Street should go back to the way it was; the financial institutions should regulate themselves,” he said during the Thursday midday press conference.

“They can take that on the road and try and sell it, but I don’t think there are going to be many buyers,” he said to the reporters.

Carney had a receptive audience. Most reporters’ questions characterized the dispute as caused by GOP political anger, not by a potentially illegal presidential maneuver intended to help him and his allies could portray the GOP as defenders of Wall Street excess.

GOP officials and lawyers agree the president can make temporary “recess appointments” when the Senate is in recess. But they emphasize a longstanding precedent, one previously backed by Obama’s own Justice Department, requiring at least three days of recess before the president may act.

Since December, the Senate has not been in recess that long because the House has been using its constitutional authority to keep the Senate open, even though nearly all the senators have left town for Christmas.

By “circumventing Congress to appoint a new administrator,” said a Dec. 4 statement from Romney’s campaign, Obama’s decision “represents Chicago-style politics at its worst.”

Former Sen. Rick Santorum slammed the appointments Dec. 5, saying “[W]e are a country of laws … [and] this president routinely runs roughshod over the law.”

Carney repeatedly refused to provide a legal counter to the GOP’s constitutional arguments.

“Our assessment is that Congress has been in recess and has made every indication that it will be in recess for a sustained period of time, and that gaveling in and gaveling out for seven seconds does not constitute a recess with regard to the President’s constitutional authority,” Carney said.

The GOP “can make a lot of [legal] process arguments about it [but] we feel very strongly that the Constitution and the legal case is strongly on our side.”

Carney’s emphasis on the political payoffs of the legal dispute matched Obama’s emphasis Dec. 5 when he announced his appointment of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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