Supreme Court Rules On Recess Appointments, Abortion Clinic Buffer Zones

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The U.S. Supreme Court issued two major rulings today — one on the president's power to fill high-level vacancies and the other on protest-free zones outside the entrances to abortion clinics. Legal expert Emily Bazelon discusses the two decisions with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson.

Recess appointments

The Supreme Court on Thursday limited the president's power to fill high-level vacancies with temporary appointments, ruling in favor of Senate Republicans in their partisan clash with President Barack Obama.

The high court's first-ever case involving the Constitution's recess appointments clause ended in a unanimous decision holding that Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board in 2012 without Senate confirmation were illegal. Obama invoked the Constitution's provision giving the president the power to make temporary appointments when the Senate is in recess.

Problem is, the court said, the Senate was not actually in a formal recess when Obama acted.

Abortion clinic buffer zones

The Supreme Court has struck down a 35-foot protest-free zone outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts. The justices were unanimous Thursday that extending a buffer zone 35 feet from clinic entrances violates the First Amendment rights of protesters.

Chief Justice John Roberts says authorities have less intrusive ways to deal with problems outside the clinics.

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this article.


This segment aired on June 26, 2014.


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