Politics & Policy

Court Curbs Congress-Dodger

Cozy with labor: President Obama with AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka (Getty Images)
The Supremes' NLRB decision rebukes Obama’s skirt-Congress approach to governing.

Last week’s unanimous Supreme Court decision in NLRB v. Canning is a major and much-welcome wallop against Obama’s skirt-Congress approach to governing.

“I refuse to take no for an answer,” Obama snapped in January 2012, as he made his now-officially unconstitutional recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. Even then, he sounded eerily like the dictator into which he has devolved.

Obama becomes more authoritarian by the day. He has deployed his “pen and a phone” to impose the pro-amnesty Dream Act by decree, rewrite Obamacare at his whim, and otherwise serve as a Parliament of One.

Thankfully, the Supreme Court has put America’s Dear Leader in his place. While Obama might dislike it, three separate and co-equal branches make up the federal government. That may be two branches too many for Obama, But that’s the way it is, under the U.S. Constitution. Obama should look into it.

When his own nominees to the Court — associate justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — see iris to iris with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, Obama should wake up and take notice. Obama should learn from this humiliating defeat — his 13th unanimous loss in the Supreme Court. Obama should stop behaving like a Third World despot and cooperate with Congress whenever he hopes to change public policy or make political appointments.

Obama suddenly has another, very practical problem. When the Court retroactively defrocked Obama’s recess appointees to the NLRB, it effectively rendered kaput some 436 NLRB decisions made “while the imposter members were seated,” as the Wall Street Journal editorialized. It was not good enough for Obama that his fellow Democrats controlled the Senate when he made these rump appointments. Ironically and mercifully, Obama’s impatience unwittingly has pulverized many of the NLRB’s gifts to Big Labor.

“All NLRB decisions issued from January 2012 through the new board’s confirmation at the end of July 2013 are invalidated because, in a previous case, the Court said the NLRB needs three members (of five) for a valid quorum,” Patrick Semmens, vice president for public information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, told me. “If those board decisions were challenged in federal court, then they are thrown out, and the new NLRB will have to issue a new decision.”

“Ultimately, the current pro-union NLRB is likely to come to the same result as the illegal board,” Semmens adds. “But the real impact is that, in addition to rebuking Obama’s imperial power grab, it really throws sand in the gears of NLRB and will slow down the damage it can do.”

Semmens identifies two cases on which the Right to Work Committee has argued. These disputes now should go RTW’s way, thanks to these now-nullified NLRB rulings.

The bogus NLRB ruled that a union may add its lobbying expenses to the “agency fee” that it forced a non-union nurse to pay, at the risk of losing her job. This decision is now dead.

Likewise, when five workers tried to resign from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union to avoid paying dues, the NLRB forbade them to quit — never mind that no valid labor contract was in effect. This judgment also goes poof.

Obama cannot blame “George Bush,” the Tea Party, or the Fox News Channel for this predicament. It’s his mess. Because Obama insisted on circumventing the Constitution, these two NLRB rulings and 434 similar others now have been catapulted onto the ash heap of history. Perhaps these now-defunct decisions will constitute a soft cushion for Obama, when he deservedly lands upon said ash heap.

— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.


Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.


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