Jessica M. Karmasek Oct. 30, 2013, 2:00pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- Richard Griffin, a former member of the National Labor Relations Board, has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as the board's general counsel.

On Tuesday evening, senators voted 55-44 to approve Griffin. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., did not vote, according to the roll call.

Griffin will serve a term of four years as the board's top lawyer.

In July, President Barack Obama withdrew Griffin's nomination, and Sharon Block's, to the board as part of a deal to avoid the so-called "nuclear option" in the Senate and preserve the use of the filibuster in the chamber.

Griffin and Block, along with Terence Flynn, were recess appointed to the board by Obama in 2012.

Democrats threatened to change the Senate rules so that it would only take 51 votes to confirm executive branch nominees, including the NLRB nominees.

Without confirmation of at least one of the nominees, the NLRB would have ceased to function in August.

Kent Hirozawa and Nancy J. Schiffer were nominated in Griffin and Block's places.

Soon after the deal was brokered, Obama nominated Griffin as general counsel of the board.

But some questions about the NLRB's legitimacy remain.

Obama's recess appointments to the board last year are now under U.S. Supreme Court review, prompting questions about the board's decisions made since the appointments.

In January, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that the President's "intrasession appointment" of three new members to the board was an unconstitutional abuse of power because he could not make those appointments without U.S. Senate confirmation because the Senate was not in recess.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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