Gene Healy | Obama’s ‘second-term blues’ have begun

Maybe it’s the era of "collective action." "Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action," Obama insisted — but given his frequent, first-term recourse to government-by-fiat, you could translate that to "expanding my administration’s power requires unilateral action."

Obama put it more delicately in an exclusive interview with the New Republic last week, allowing that "a judicious use of executive power can move the argument forward or solve problems that are of immediate enough import that we can’t afford not to do it."

On Friday, in Canning v. NLRB the D.C. Circuit begged to differ. Obama had violated the Constitution with recess appointments of three members of the National Labor Relations Board, the court held.

In a tart reprimand, Chief Judge David Sentelle wrote that the president’s attempted end-run around the Senate confirmation process, "would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases," on the "weekend," over "lunch," or even, as in this case, "when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law."

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