Noel Canning and Republicans

by Ramesh Ponnuru

So I’ve now read a dozen or so Republican politicians’ press releases about the Supreme Court’s decision that the president acted unconstitutionally in making “recess appointments” when Congress had not declared itself to be in recess. They make some of the right points: The unanimity of the decision shows how constitutionally outré the administration’s position was, it has a habit of pushing the constitutional limits, etc. I think that Republicans should avoid casting this as merely a procedural issue, though, an affront against the prerogatives of the Senate, and should always do what they can to connect process to substance. Constitutional procedures are valuable not just because they are the law but because they serve the cause of good — limited, effective, accountable — government. Here the point Republicans ought to make is that the recess appointments are a way of advancing an agenda that tramples on economic freedom, undermines the flexibility and productivity of workplaces and therefore reduces workers’ wages in the long run, and so forth, while avoiding checks and balances.

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