Story highlights

Judge refuses to decide whether labor board appointees can enforce a pending rule

Rule would require employers to hang poster notifying employees of their labor rights

Business coalition asked about the president's power to make recess appointments

The Justice Department says the president has authority to make the appointments

CNN —  

A group of businesses challenging the power of the president to make recess appointments suffered a legal setback Friday.

A federal judge has refused to decide whether President Obama’s three appointees on the National Labor Relations Board have the authority to enforce a pending workplace rule. That rule would require employers to place a poster notifying employees of their rights under federal labor law. It is scheduled to go into effect in late April.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson, named to the bench only last year by Obama, in her ruling gave the board a partial victory, saying it enjoyed only limited authority. The judge said the recess appointment issue was brought into the lawsuit late in the current legal fight and had no relevance in the issue over workplace regulations.

A private business coalition sought clarification over the power of the president to appoint officials while the Senate was in recess, which escalated earlier this year with the recent, separate Obama appointment of Richard Cordray to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The Justice Department subsequently concluded the president did have legal and constitutional authority to make such recess appointments. Other advocacy organizations have filed separate legal challenges over the recess appointment issue, but it remains unclear whether the Supreme Court will someday agree to decide the question.

The case is National Association of Manufacturers v. NLRB (1:11-cv-1629).