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Posted at 07:05 AM ET, 12/09/2011

Recess appointments: Nobody did them like Teddy

And speaking of recess appointments, Dec. 7 marks the 108th anniversary of the most audacious recess appointment maneuvers ever.
Theodore Roosevelt made recess-appointment history. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)
“At high noon on Dec. 7 1903,” Senate associate historian Betty K. Koed has written, the Senate president pro tem brought down the gavel to end one session of the Senate and then said “the Senate will now come to order.”

“In that moment between sessions,” Koed wrote, “during that split-second of time it took . . . to wield the gavel, President Theodore Roosevelt made 193 recess appointments.”

“There was but one fall of the gavel,” a newspaper reported, “but one stroke, but one sound.” Even senators in the chamber didn’t know there’d been a recess or, as Roosevelt most creatively put it, a “constructive recess.”

Senators of both parties were furious and launched an investigation into what, under the Constitution, constitutes a recess.

We’re told the answer remains most ambiguous to this day. The more recent consensus is that, to be in recess, the Senate is gone for more than three days. But that’s only based on a 1993 Justice Department analysis in a lawsuit — not a law or Supreme Court ruling.

So if Obama, who talked about T.R. this week in Kansas, were really channeling Roosevelt . . .

By  |  07:05 AM ET, 12/09/2011

 
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