The confirmation process is broken

  • Article by: EDITORIAL , Los Angeles Times
  • Updated: January 29, 2013 - 7:23 PM
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Richard Cordray stands left as President Barack Obama announces in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013, that he will re-nominate Cordray to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a role that he has held for the last year under a recess appointment.

Photo: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press - Ap

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In a breathtakingly broad decision, a federal appeals court has ruled that President Obama violated the Constitution when he unilaterally appointed three members of the National Labor Relations Board during a "pro forma" session of the Senate.

If upheld by the Supreme Court, the decision would all but end so-called recess appointments, by which presidents of both parties have bypassed the Senate -- often because of unjustified obstruction by a determined minority.

Reining in the president's ability to make recess appointments wouldn't be a problem if the confirmation process worked the way the framers intended. But in Washington's current partisan gridlock, a minority of senators can -- and too often do -- deny a president a timely up-or-down vote on his nominations, a distortion of the advice-and-consent process.

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