WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The House Judiciary Committee will have a hearing Feb. 15 over the constitutionality of recent recess appointments by President Obama.
The appointments were termed "recess appointments" by the Obama administration despite the fact Congress was still in session.
Committee chairman Lamar Smith, R-Texas, issued a statement Jan. 23 about the Jan. 4 appointments of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three individuals to the National Labor Relations Board.
"President Obama's recent appointments are unprecedented and possibly unconstitutional," Smith said. "The President may make appointments while the Senate is in recess, however these appointments were made while the Senate was not -- something no other President has attempted."
Smith said the Constitution gives the Senate the authority to determine the rules of its proceedings. The president cannot unilaterally declare recess appointments while the Senate is not in recess. Doing so, he said would threaten the Constitutional separation of powers.
"These appointments continue the administration's pattern of manipulating Executive authority to avoid having to secure support from Congress," Smith wrote. "Pro forma sessions were never meant to be a window for the Administration to appoint whomever it likes to powerful government positions. This power grab threatens the role of Congress and raises serious constitutional questions.
"The House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to determine whether or not the President's appointments are constitutional and in the best interests of the American people."