The Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that President
Nevertheless, Obama and his successors should welcome this decision because it could have been so much worse. The justices could have endorsed the holding of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that presidents may unilaterally appoint officials only between "enumerated sessions" of
Writing for the majority, Justice
That more pragmatic interpretation is good news for the presidency, but it's also beneficial for the country.
Admittedly, the recess appointment power is an artifact of an era when travel to Washington was time-consuming and senators often were away from the capital for long periods of time. But even in an era of air travel and instant communication, there will be times when a recess appointment is justified, either because of a sudden vacancy in a crucial office or because the Senate won't act on a nomination expeditiously. (The latter justification has lost much of its force with the decision by Senate Democrats last year to abolish the filibuster for almost all nominations.)