June 16, 2012
Congressional Gridlock and the Executive: A Battle Over Nominations, Recess Appointments, and the Use of the Filibuster
Neil J. KinkopfProfessor of Law, Georgia State University College of Law
Michael J. GerhardtSamuel Ashe Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law & Director, Center for Law and Government, University of North Carolina School of Law
Marge BakerExecutive Vice President for Policy and Program, People for the American Way
Michael W. McConnellRichard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law, Stanford Law School; Director, Stanford Constitutional Law Center; Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
Louis FisherScholar-in-Residence, The Constitution Project
On January 4, 2012, President Obama made recess appointments to fill four key government positions, including the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and three positions on the National Labor Relations Board. The recess appointments were immediately the subject of controversy, raising questions that were specific (e.g., about what constitutes a valid recess, the legitimacy of pro forma Senate sessions, and legal precedent for such nominations) as well as questions that were general (e.g., about how to address congressional gridlock and about the balance of power between the executive and congressional branches). This panel explored the legal and historical issues surrounding recess appointments, as well as outline possible reforms that could minimize the chance of future showdowns over executive branch and judicial nominations.