(AP) WASHINGTON — In an embarrassing setback for President Barack Obama, a federal appeals court panel ruled Friday that he violated the Constitution in making certain recess appointments and moved to curtail a chief executive’s ability in the future to circumvent the Senate in such scenarios.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Obama did not have the power to make three recess appointments last year to the National Labor Relations Board because the Senate was officially in session — and not in recess — at the time. If the decision stands, it could invalidate hundreds of board decisions.

The court said the president could only fill vacancies with the recess appointment procedure if the openings arise when the Senate is in an official recess, which it defined as the break between sessions of Congress.

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