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Obama appointments ruled unconstitutional

WASHINGTON — In a ruling that called into question nearly two centuries of presidential recess appointments that bypass the Senate confirmation process, a federal appeals court ruled Friday that President Obama violated the Constitution when he installed three officials on the National Labor Relations Board a year ago.

The ruling was a blow to the administration and a victory for Obama’s Republican critics — and a handful of liberal ones — who had accused him of improperly asserting that he could make the appointments under his executive powers. The administration had argued that the president could decide that senators were really on a lengthy recess even though the Senate considered itself to be meeting in ‘‘pro forma’’ sessions.

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