House Votes to Halt National Labor Relations Board Amid Constitutional Uncertainty
Washington, April 12, 2013
Idaho Congressman Simpson today supported H.R. 1120, legislation that would prohibit the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) from taking any actions that would require a panel quorum vote until the constitutional question surrounding the legitimacy of the board members is decided.
In January of 2012, President Obama made two recess appointments to the NLRB, but that move was ruled as unconstitutional in a unanimous decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals because the appointments were not approved by the U.S. Senate as is required, and the Senate was not in recess. The case has been referred to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Compounding the problem, the three NLRB board members in question have refused to step off the board, but instead have continued issuing significant decisions despite the questions surrounding their legal authority.
“This legislation simply orders the NLRB to cease activities that require a vote of the board until we have a legitimately appointed board, or until we have a decision one way or another from the Supreme Court,” said Simpson. “The board continues to issue decisions that may not be legally enforceable.”
Many employers have already begun attempting to block or void rulings of the NLRB and challenge them in court on the basis that they are unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court rules that the President’s appointments were unconstitutional then the hundreds of NLRB decisions since that time would be nullified.
“Even labor leaders have admitted that the D.C. Circuit ruling has undermined enforcement of the law,” added Simpson. “It doesn’t make sense to have the NLRB continue issuing major decisions until this question has been answered.”
H.R. 1120 would stop the NLRB until either the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the appointments, the Senate confirms the board members constitutionally, or the terms of the board members come to an end at the end of the year.
It passed in the house 218-209 and now moves to the Senate for consideration.