WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers on Thursday cheered the Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that President Barack Obama lacked constitutional authority to make high-level government appointments when he declared the Senate in recess and unable to act on the nominations.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who led the GOP's legal challenge to the recess appointments, called the decision a rejection of Obama's "brazen power grab." He added in his statement: "All Americans should be grateful for the court's rebuke of the administration — and the Democratic majority in the Senate should be embarrassed by its failure, yet again, to stand up to the president and to defend the Senate's uniquely important role under our Constitution."
But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sought to discount the importance of the ruling, noting that Senate Democrats voted last fall to change the chamber's rules of procedure to make it easier for the majority party to confirm a president's nominees by requiring just a simple majority of senators — not 60 — to proceed to final debate on a nominee. In a statement, Reid said the ruling "will have no effect on our ability to continue ensuring that qualified nominees receive an up-or-down vote."
The court's decision was rare, in that the justices rarely attempt to intercede in disputes between the White House and Congress. But with a Democrat in the White House, Republicans used Thursday's ruling as an opportunity to again sharply criticize Obama.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., called the decision "a victory for the rule of law in this country and a repudiation of President Obama's blatant disregard for the constitutional limits of his office."
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the "unanimous decision makes it clear that President Obama acted without any legitimate authority and his power grab is outside any meaningful debate about the balance of power between the executive and legislative branches."
Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., suggested that "as a former senator and lecturer on constitutional law, this president should have known better." He added that Obama "has frequently boasted of his intention to bypass Congress … , and I hope this unanimous rebuke will cause him to reflect on what it means to exercise executive authority with respect for the elected representatives of the American people."