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April 05, 2013

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Darren McKinney

In our modern age of jet travel and instant telecommunications, a sober, nonpartisan argument can be made for ending recess appointments altogether, unless truly "extraordinary Occasions" arise, as imagined by the Founders in the Constitution's Article II, Section 3. Such occasions today might include nuclear war or a natural disaster so devastating that a quorum of senators is killed or is otherwise physically unable to convene.

But barring such extraordinary circumstances, the president should be limited by statute -- in line with Article II, Section 2 -- to ordering the Senate to convene if its advice and consent is needed for an appointment (just as a governor convenes a special session of a state legislature to deal with an emergency or important, unfinished business).

Such a no-appointments-without-advice-and-consent arrangement would compel presidents to reach out to Senate leaders on both sides of the aisle prior to announcing appointment nominees, and this could only promote the likelihood of consensus nominees along with more genuinely constructive cooperation among our federal government’s two political branches – certainly more than we've seen in recent years. A bonus result of this arrangement would include a somewhat more moderate judiciary and administrative agencies. And who but extremists at either end of our political spectrum would oppose more moderation?

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