Constitution Daily Update: Egypt situation impacting Washington, different take on recess appointments

The rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt is having implications in Washington; and could the Supreme Court pass on a major case coming up in its new term?


Campaigning in Cairo, 2010 (Al Jazeera Creative Commons Repository

Items To Watch

1. With constitutional reform dead in Egypt and that nation’s military back in control, the violence between government supporters and the Muslim Brotherhood is becoming a major political issue in Washington. President Obama addressed the nation on Thursday morning. A bigger question, coming from the President’s critics, is did his administration do enough to prevent the bloodshed that left more than 500 people dead  and Egypt’s democratic revolution in shreds?

2. According to a poll by Republican-leaning Basswood Research, everyone in Washington will share the blame equally if the Federal government shuts down on October 1.

Developing Questions …

Here are some updates on new discussions about top-of-mind constitutional issues.

1. Does the Supreme Court have an opportunity for judicial restraint ?

At the Social Science Research Network, Peter Shane, a professor of law at Ohio State University and a former dean of the University of Pittsburgh Law School, has a paper up that makes this argument:

“If the Senate confirms a full complement of members for the National Labor Relations Board, the Obama administration should ask the Supreme Court in Noel Canning v. NLRB to remand the case, without decision, to be re-heard by the NLRB. The court should grant the request, showing a judicial restraint for which the Roberts bench is not known — and returning the recess appointments controversy to the elected branches of government, where it belongs. If the SG does not pursue this course, the Court should use the political question doctrine to avoid unnecessary judicial interference with the dynamics of the President’s and Senate’s shared appointments power.”

The case is on the ideological agenda of the Court because the majority opinion of the DC Circuit in the case was widely considered extreme: the President can make a “recess appointment” only when the Senate is out of town in the interval between its annual sessions, and not when it is out of town at times during an annual meeting; and the only vacancies in government positions the President can fill by such appointments are those that have opened up during such an annual recess.


It was on this day in 1899 that the head engineer of Thomas Edison’s electricity plant in Michigan quits his job, which required him to be on call 24/7. The engineer, Henry Ford, had a better idea of a new business involving automobiles.

Closing Notes

1. Those goats in Washington cleaning up the Congressional Cemetery are still getting rave reviews. The 60 goats cost $4,000 or, “only about 25 cents per goat, per hour,” says a cemetery official, and they cleared off the scrub and poison ivy that cluttered the historic cemetery.

2. Amanda Frost from American University’s Washington College of Law was nice enough share an excerpt with us about her research into a fascinating topic: Does Congress have the power to set rules about the judicial ethics of Supreme Court Justices? You can read her entire essay at a link provided in our story.

Editor’s note: The Update is a summary of news and commentary about the Constitution and related issues, as reported around the digital world. Guest contributors and our editorial staff add to the daily update, and we welcome your suggestions (and reports) at [email protected].

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