Skip to content

Get Judicial Watch Updates!


Judicial Watch • Obama’s “Recess” Appointments 2012

Obama’s “Recess” Appointments 2012

Obama’s “Recess” Appointments 2012

APRIL 18, 2012

On January 4th or 5th (depending on which document you consult), President Barack Obama seized a lull in congressional activity to name a director to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and three members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) without first obtaining Senate approval, as required under Art. II, Sec. 2, cl. 2 of the U.S. Constitution.

For the NLRB, Obama tapped Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin.  To lead the CFPB, Obama named former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, who offered free legal support to three state bureaucrats after they misused government resources to dig into the background of Obama critic Joe Wurzelbacher, popularly known as “Joe the Plumber.”

Cordray, best known for his Jeopardy winning streak during college and his failed reelection bid in 2010, expressed doubt about the legality of his appointment in a February 6 missive to CFPB staff:

“There is a chance (a minor chance in my view, though everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion) that the appointment would be invalidated by a court.”

Cordray went on in the same letter to concede that the nature of the appointment could cause him to be removed earlier than the President had hoped:

“To the extent there is a certain end-point to the horizon, that fact is not unique to a recess appointment. But (and it is inevitable that there was going to be a “but”), the fact that this appointment is for two years (and in some conceivable circumstances it could be shorter) does matter . . . ”

Rather than promise to exercise restraint in the face of possible challenge to his appointment or develop a backup plan to ensure continuity of operations, Cordray pledged to act with extra zeal given his “fierce urgency” to carry out Obama’s plans.

Judicial Watch awaits CFPB’s prompt disclosure of all remaining documents stemming from Obama’s unilateral appointment of Cordray, who also took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution in accepting his present assignment.