In the News: Recess Appointments

Although the lion’s share of today’s headlines focus on the results of the Iowa Caucus,  there are a number of stories on Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  [For more information on the Cordray appointment, read articles in the Washington Post, New York Times, and on blogs such as the Volokh Conspiracy etc.]

A number of the news articles reference reports and opinions that discuss the authority and scope of recess appointments.

Lucky for us, many of these items are available online.

HeinOnline has a great collection of U.S. Attorney General Opinions.  There is an early Attorney General opinion, “Executive Authority to Fill Vacancies,” from October 22, 1823, and it available to us via HeinOnline.  [“The substantial purpose of the constitution was to keep these offices filled; and the powers adequate to this purpose were intended to be conveyed.”]

Also mentioned in some news coverage is a 1905 Senate Report (S. Rep. No. 58–4389) titled, “Inquiry as to what constitutes recess of Senate.”  This report, along with other House and Senate Reports, is available full-text (PDF) to us via ProQuest Congressional (formerly Lexis Congressional).

There are also quite a few CRS (Congressional Research Service) Reports on this topic.   The ProQuest Congressional database includes many of these reports; searching the web will also direct you to OpenCRS, which is a great (free) database of many CRS reports.  Of note, the 2012 CRS Report by Henry B. Hogue, “Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions,” and the 2005 report by T.J. Halstead, “Recess Appointments: A Legal Overview.”

If you have questions about using these databases, please let us know.