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Supreme Court justice denies stay in employment case

By Lawrence Hurley

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Monday denied a nursing home operator's emergency stay application that had cited legal confusion over President Barack Obama's appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.

Ginsburg denied the request filed earlier Monday by HealthBridge Management LLC, which had wanted the court to intervene in an employment dispute.

At issue was a preliminary injunction ordering HealthBridge, which operates nursing homes in Connecticut, to reinstate striking workers while the National Labor Relations Board considers the employees' complaint. The almost 700 workers have cited unfair labor practices.

The company's stay application filed on Monday cited a January 25 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, in which the court held that three appointments Obama made to the NLRB last year were invalid.

The D.C. Circuit court ruling meant that the NLRB does not have the required quorum to make decisions, casting into doubt various adjudications made since the appointments were made in January 2012.

As Ginsburg acted alone and issued no comment on the matter, the stay denial says little about how the Supreme Court might rule if the case, which has not yet been before a federal appeals court, ever does reach the high court.

In its ruling in January, the D.C. Circuit court said the president did not have the authority to make the three "recess appointments," a term used to describe a means of circumventing the Senate confirmation process, because the Senate was not technically in recess at the time.

HealthBridge still has the option of asking the full court to consider its stay application. U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny of the District of Connecticut had issued the preliminary injunction in December,

In Monday's court filing, HealthBridge's attorney, Paul Clement, said it was likely the high court will review the D.C. Circuit ruling.

"It makes little sense for the courts to order immediate action at the behest of the board here when the board's ability to act is in profound doubt and will be addressed by this court," Clement wrote.

(Editing by Howard Goller, Kevin Drawbaugh and Leslie Adler)

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