When President Obama announced his recess appointments last week, Republicans were not only outraged by the White House’s move on political grounds, they also argued that the appointments were in conflict with the law. As the GOP sees it, so long as lawmakers maintained sham sessions, Congress wasn’t technically in “recess,” so recess appointments weren’t an option.
Republicans demanded a legal analysis from the Office of Legal Counsel. As it turns out, the OLC had already examined the issue, though I rather doubt Republicans will like what the officials came up with. (The OLC advises the executive branch on whether an administration’s efforts are legally permissible or not.)
In this case, Assistant Attorney General Virginia Seitz wrote a 23-page OLC opinion on the recess appointments, and as Adam Serwer explained, the office’s attorneys were unmoved by the “pro-forma” charade.