Recess appointment

From Academic Kids

A recess appointment occurs when the President of the United States fills a vacant Federal position during a Congressional recess. The commission or appointment must be ratified (i.e. approved) by the Senate by the end of the next session, or the position becomes vacant again. Recess appointments are authorized by Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution: "The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session."

Sometimes, recess appointments have been used to fill vacancies with individuals who might prove difficult to confirm or face staunch opposition from the Senate. The recess appointment is made in hopes that, by the next Congressional session, opposition will have diminished. In recent years, however, a recess appointment has tended to harden the attitude of the opposition party, and confirmation becomes even more difficult.

Scholars and legal experts disagree as to how long the Senate must be in recess before the President may make such an appointment. President Theodore Roosevelt made several recess apppointments during a one-day recess of the Senate.

New Jersey judge William J. Brennan was appointed to the United States Supreme Court by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1956 through a recess appointment, and was promptly confirmed when the Senate came back into session.

President Bill Clinton made a recess appointment of Bill Lan Lee as assistant attorney general for civil rights, when it became clear that Lee's strong support of affirmative action would lead to Senate opposition. Clinton was strongly criticized for doing so.

President George W. Bush appointed several judges to U.S. courts of appeals using recess appointments after their nominations were subjected to a Senate filibuster by opposition Democrats. One, Judge Charles Pickering of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, withdrew his name from consideration for renomination when his recess appointment expired. Some Republican leaders have suggested that Bush make a recess appointment of John Bolton, his nominee as U.S. representative to the United Nations. Bolton has also been the subject of a Senate filibuster. The filibuster involves documents which the White House will not release that are said to contain proof of John Bolton's abusive treatment and coercion of staff members.


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