Nightly News | January 25, 2013
>>> a federal appeals court has dealt president obama a big legal setback tonight and given republicans who charged that he acted improperly when he made some job appointments a huge victory. this is about what presidents get to do when congress is out of town, and this could affect all future presidents. our justice correspondent, pete williams , is with us from our newsroom with the details tonight. pete, good evening.
>> reporter: brian, if this ruling stands, it will virtually eliminate a power that presidents of both parties have used for over a century. the constitution gives the president power, quote, to fill up all vacancies that may happen during the recess of the senate. president obama invoked that recess appointment power a year ago to fill vacancies that senate republicans refused to act on. three spots on the national labor relations board and richard cordray to run the new consumer financial protection bureau. but today a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in washington said that power can only be used between the end of one session of congress and the beginning of another, not during any congressional break. and the court said it can be used only to fill spots that become vacant during those recesses. presidents of both parties have made more than 300 recess appointments . thurgood marshall , earl warren and brennan got on the supreme court that way. it's how john bolten was made u.n. ambassador. so the obama administration seems certain to appeal this to the supreme court , brian.
>> huge decision today. pete williams from our d.c. newsroom tonight. pete, thanks.