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.