City | 12:44 pm | January 12, 2012 | By Michelle Hackman

YLS professor weighs in on recess appointments

What was the constitutional basis for President Barack Obama's decision to make a few controversial appointments? A Law School professor wants to know.
What was the constitutional basis for President Barack Obama's decision to make a few controversial appointments? A Law School professor wants to know. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

At least one Yale Law professor is upset over President Barack Obama’s recess appointments, though perhaps for reasons different than congressional Republicans.

Sterling Professor Bruce Ackerman LAW ’67, an expert on constitutional law, took to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday to discuss the president’s controversial decision to make several high-profile appointments during the recess of the United States Senate, effectively bypassing the traditional congressional approval process.

Such a decision normally requires constitutional backing from the Justice Department, Ackerman argued, but Obama made the decision based on an unpublished constitutional defense written by White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmier. Ackerman said he did not necessarily think Obama’s decision to go ahead with the appointments was unconstitutional — he just wants to understand exactly what logic was governing Obama’s thinking, and accordingly is demanding that Ruemmier publish her opinion.

“It is hardly enough for him to inform the Senate that Ms. Ruemmler has given the go-ahead,” Ackerman wrote. “At the very least, he should provide his counsel’s legal opinion explaining why he has the constitutional authority to second-guess the Senate on whether it is in recess.”

Ackerman’s piece has racked up over 80 comments on the Journal’s website.

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