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In an embarrassing setback for President Barack Obama, a federal appellate panel has ruled that he violated the Constitution in making recess appointments last year, a decision that would effectively curtail a president’s ability to bypass the Senate to fill administration vacancies. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments last year to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session—and not in recess—at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions.

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