Court weighs president's recess appointments power

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The Supreme Court is refereeing a politically charged dispute between President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans over the president's power to temporarily fill high-level positions.

The case being argued at the high court Monday is the first in the nation's history to consider the meaning of the provision of the Constitution that allows the president to make temporary appointments to positions that otherwise require Senate confirmation, but only when the Senate is in recess.

The court battle is an outgrowth of increasing partisanship and the political stalemate that's been a hallmark of Washington for years, and especially since Obama took office in 2009.

Senate Republicans' refusal to allow votes for nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau led Obama to make the temporary, or recess, appointments in January 2012.

Three federal appeals courts have said Obama overstepped his authority because the Senate was not in recess when he acted.

The Supreme Court case involves a dispute between a Washington state bottling company and a local Teamsters union in which the NLRB sided with the union. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the board's ruling. Hundreds more NLRB rulings could be voided if the Supreme Court upholds the appeals court decision.

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