WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and Senate Republicans are squaring off at the Supreme Court over the president's power to temporarily fill high-level positions.

The high court is hearing arguments today in a dispute that is the first in the nation's history to explore the meaning of a constitutional provision known as the recess appointments clause. Under the provision, the president may make temporary appointments to positions that otherwise require confirmation by the Senate, but only when the Senate is in recess.

Senate Republicans' refusal to allow votes for nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau led Obama to make the temporary appointments in January 2012.

Three federal appeals courts have said Obama overstepped his authority because the Senate was not in recess when he acted.

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