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The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether President Barack Obama had authority to appoint members of the federal labor board without Senate confirmation, in a constitutional clash that may undercut his regulatory agenda.

The case, which the court will consider in its 2013-14 term, may affect about 1,000 decisions and orders issued by the National Labor Relations Board since January 2012. It will also have ramifications for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the watchdog agency created by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. Bureau director Richard Cordray was appointed by Obama on the same day he installed the NLRB officials.

The central question is whether the Senate was in recess when Obama made the NLRB appointments. A federal appeals court said the president’s constitutional power to appoint officials during Senate recesses applies only between Congress’s two-year sessions.

“The court of appeals’ decision would dramatically curtail the scope of the president’s authority under the recess appointments clause,” U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, the administration’s top courtroom lawyer, argued in court papers. “It would deem invalid hundreds of recess appointments made by presidents since early in the nation’s history.”

Bloomberg |