The Senate adjourned Friday after playing "work-to-rule" to prevent the President from making recess appointments for almost two years:
Among the many standoffs between congressional Democrats and Bush, the issue of interim appointments was one -- possibly the only one -- where Democrats truly had the upper hand under the Constitution.
Earlier this decade, annoyed that Senate Democrats were stalling his nominees to the appeals courts, Bush used his so-called recess appointment authority to name controversial selections such as Charles Pickering and William Pryor to the federal bench when Congress was on one of its many breaks. Such appointees get to serve out the remainder of the year in which they were appointed and until the end of the congressional session the following year.
So with the session never legally in recess, the President couldn't make recess appointments. QED.
The 111th Congress opens tomorrow, and Thursday, Barack Obama will be certified the next President.