BRADENTON — On Thursday, the United States Supreme Court rendered two major decisions. It scaled back Presidential power by restricting their ability to issue recess appointments during breaks in Senate sessions. The court also struck down a Massachusetts law that barred protests near abortion clinics, ruling that it violated 1st Amendment rights.
The court unanimously ruled that President Obama had violated the Constitution in 2012 by appointing officials to the National Labor Relations Board during a brief break in the Senate’s work while the chamber was convening every three days in pro forma sessions.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote in a majority opinion that those breaks were too short to justify such actions. He was joined by the court’s four more liberal members, while justice Breyer added that recess appointments remain allowable, as long as they are made during a break of 10 or more days. The new limit could serve to block most appointments.
Also on Thursday, the court unanimously struck down a 2007 Massachusetts law that created a 35-foot buffer zone around entrances to abortion clinics. Protests were limited to outside that radius. The law was challenged on 1st Amendment grounds.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote a majority opinion (joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan). Roberts suggested that the state could pursue other alternative laws, while Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas argued that such restrictions on protests were unconstitutional in any form.