The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case challenging President Obama’s aggressive use of recess appointments. It will be an important moment in the ever-escalating bipartisan war involving recess appointments and filibustering of nominees.
There are hypocrites in both parties, and blame on both parties. I think the most interesting question would be “how can we de-escalate and establish a fair system?”
Here are my two principles:
1) Recess appointments should basically only be used to fill urgent vacancies that occur between sessions of Congress — i.e., almost never.
2) A President’s nominees deserve an up-or-down vote. Filibusters are really only legitimate if the nominee and the administration are refusing legitimate requests for documents or answer to questions.
What does this mean, policywise? That’s a trickier question. Maybe the recess-appointment power needs to be trimmed (and the court may do so), and maybe the norms in the Senate need to be returned to older, less-filibustery norms.