The three judges ruling unanimously Friday are Republican appointees.
Obama is pushing the NLRB in a pro-union direction, Republicans contend. Democrats say that’s just a corrective to the pro-business bent of the NLRB under President George W. Bush. The NLRB is an independent agency that conducts elections for labor-union representation and investigates unfair labor practices.
"With this ruling, the DC Circuit has soundly rejected the Obama Administration's flimsy interpretation of the law, and will go a long way toward restoring the constitutional separation of powers," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) of Utah said in a statement.
“This is a very important decision about the separation of powers,” Carl Tobias, a constitutional law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia, told the Associated Press. “The court’s reading has limited the president’s ability to counter the obstruction of appointments by a minority in the Senate that has been pretty egregious in the Obama administration.”