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Supreme Court justices today will give their first clues as to how they will decide what could be a make or break case for the remainder of the Obama presidency. Presidents have long taken advantage of the Constitution’s provision that the chief executive may make temporary, emergency appointments to key positions without confirmation from the Senate. The allowance for so-called recess appointments was conceived as a way to let the executive branch function during times when the Senate was out of session and Philadelphia was a long carriage ride over rutted roads from most of the nation. But modern presidents have used it to install controversial appointees unlikely to win confirmation into important posts for one year. President Obama’s decision to push the envelope and fill out the National Labor Relations Board with pro-Union picks when the Senate was not technically in recess may permanently deprive the executive branch of that helpful loophole. The Supreme Court is holding an extended session today to hear arguments on this case. 

[The Seattle Times has the back story of a pop bottler in Yakima, Wash. that spurred the case that could alter the federal balance of power.]

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