In a brief order in June agreeing to review the issue, the justices asked the Obama administration and a challenger of his use of recess authority "to brief and argue the following question: Whether the president's recess-appointment power may be exercised when the Senate is convening every three days in pro forma sessions" in which no business is done.
As Democrats had done previously, Senate Republicans kept the Senate in pro forma session to avoid recess appointments. Obama opted to challenge the practice in January 2012 when some Republican senators were holding pro-forma sessions while the Senate technically was on a 20-day recess.
When Obama moved ahead with three appointments to the National Labor Relations Board that Republicans considered too labor-oriented, Noel Corp., a Pepsi bottling and distributing company in Washington state, took the board to court after it ruled against the company in a union dispute, challenging the board's legitimacy.
The case eventually landed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. A three-member appeals court panel ruled the NLRB's decision was invalid "as it did not have a quorum" because of the invalidity of the recess appointments.
The administration successfully asked the Supreme Court for review.