“Established by Law”: Saving Statutory Limitations on Presidential Appointments from Unconstitutionality
In the federal government, over one thousand positions exist that require nomination by the President and confirmation by the Senate. For many of these positions, the statute creating the office contains limitations on whom the President may appoint to the office. These limitations can include simple professional qualifications, policy-based restrictions, and political party balance requirements. Although such restrictions on the pool of individuals eligible for any given office have been used since the first Congress, are ubiquitous throughout the U.S. Code, and have never been successfully challenged in court, several authors, litigants, and executive officials have identified potential constitutional concerns regarding their validity. Limitations on the President’s nomination power, it is argued, should be suspect under the separation of powers set up by the U.S. Constitution as a congressional encroachment on an executive prerogative. In this Note, I examine the constitutional issues surrounding statutory limitations on appointments, present the traditional arguments for and against them, and suggest a paradigm shift for how we think about such limitations that may allay the constitutional concerns of their critics.