The National Labor Relations Board has been thrown into a strange legal limbo -- with the possibility that more than 300 of its decisions over the last year could be nullified -- as a result of a federal appeals court ruling on Friday that President Obama's recess appointments to the board were invalid.
By ruling that Mr. Obama's three recess appointments last January were illegal, the federal appeals court ruling, if upheld, would leave the board with just one member, short of the quorum needed to issue any rulings. The Obama administration could appeal the court ruling, but no announcement was made on Friday.
If the Supreme Court were to uphold Friday's ruling, issued by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, it would mean that the labor board did not have a quorum since last January and that all its rulings since then should be nullified.
Many Republicans and business groups applauded Friday's ruling. They often assert that the appointments Mr. Obama made to the board have transformed it into a tool of organized labor. But many Democrats and labor unions say Mr. Obama's appointments restored ideological balance to the board after it was tipped in favor of business interests under President George W. Bush
Mark G. Pearce, the board's chairman, issued a statement saying the board disagreed with the ruling and suggested that other appeals courts hearing cases about the constitutionality of Mr. Obama's appointments could reach a different conclusion.
"In the meantime, the board has important work to do," said Mr. Pearce, whose agency oversees enforcement of the laws governing strikes and unionization drives. "We will continue to perform our statutory duties and issue decisions."
Unless the Senate confirms future nominees to the board -- Senate Republicans have blocked several of Mr. Obama's board nominees -- Mr. Pearce will be the only member left if Friday's ruling is upheld. The board has five seats.
Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican who is the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, issued a statement that urged the recess appointees to "do the right thing and step down." He added, "To avoid further damage to the economy, the N.L.R.B. must take the responsible course and cease issuing any further opinions until a constitutionally sound quorum can be established."
The three disputed recess appointees included two Democrats, Sharon Block, deputy labor secretary, and Richard Griffin, general counsel to the operating engineers' union; and one Republican, Terence Flynn, a counsel to a board member. Mr. Flynn resigned last May after being accused of leaking materials about the group's deliberations. Another Republican member, Brian Hayes, stepped down when his term expired last month.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.