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National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning

United States Supreme Court
134 S. Ct. 2550 (2014)

National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning


In 2011, the president of the United States nominated three individuals to positions on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (defendant). However, all three nominees were still awaiting Senate confirmation a year later. In January 2012, the Senate was taking a three-day break between pro forma sessions. The Senate resolved to conduct no business during the pro forma sessions, but retained the power to conduct business by passing a unanimous consent agreement. During the three-day break, the president used the Recess Appointments Clause (Recess Clause), Art. II, § 2, cl. 3, to appoint all three individuals to the NLRB without the advice and consent of the Senate. Subsequently, the NLRB ordered a Pepsi-Cola distribution company, Noel Canning (Canning) (plaintiff), to enter into a collective-bargaining agreement. Canning sought to have the NLRB’s order set aside by the federal court of appeals. Canning challenged the NLRB’s authority to issue the order, arguing that the three new NLRB members had not been validly appointed, because the Recess Clause did not apply to a three-day break between pro forma sessions of the Senate. The court of appeals held that the NLRB’s order was invalid. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

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