Bolton Recess Appointment is an Abuse of Power
Using the powers of recess appointment, President Bush has appointed John Bolton the U.S. ambassador to the UN. This move circumvents the Senate and will allow Bolton to serve, without official confirmation, until the next session of Congress begins in 2007.
Bush is hardly the first President to sneak in an unpopular nominee using the Constitutional power of a recess appointment. But that doesn’t make this move right or any less of an abuse of power.
Why is it an abuse if it appears in the Constitution?
Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 says: “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.”
The operative words here are “Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate.” The U.N. vacancy did not happen during the recess. It happened well before and was being held up using legitimate Senate rules.
I seriously doubt that the Framers of the Constitution included the recess appointment as a means for the President to bypass the will of the Senate. Instead, the recess appointment was almost certainly created to ensure that important positions would not sit vacant for the long stretches Congress was away from Washington (Congress was originally in session only five months a year and thus took quite long recesses). Additionally, it was almost impossible to reconvene Congress if necessary due to the difficulty of travel 220 years ago.
Recesses now are much shorter and reconvening Congress would take just a day, not weeks or months. In a modern world, the recess appointment is not even necessary.
Now, we can also discuss if “advise and consent” permits the minority party the right to filibuster Presidential appointees, but that is another topic and another discussion. My concern today is with the abuse of the recess appointment. And, again, I am well aware that Bush is hardly the first to use this power as a means to bypass the Senate. But I don’t condone it and I don’t think we as a society should permit the executive to seize a power that the Framers never intended to grant.
Charging RINO has more analysis and fantastic commentary in the comments section.