On the day the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about a deadlocked National Labor Relations Board, leading Chief Justice John Roberts to query why the administration hadn't given a recess appointment to its nominee, Craig Becker, labor allies of the White House have been given strong indications that such an appointment is highly likely.

Recall that the White House pointedly refused to appoint Becker during the last recess but reserved the right to do so in the future. It was a warning aimed at Republicans who had held up the Becker nod for a year. (Becker is widely seen as being favorable to labor's interests, having been a lawyer for the SEIU and AFL-CIO unions.)  Now that Obama has taken off the gloves, gotten health care reform passed, and hasn't yet put them back on, Becker's appointment looks likely.

A White House official, Tommy Vietor, said that no announcement on Becker was forthcoming "today."  When I asked whether Vietor might try to come up with a more creative response, lest my post read like a wire dispatch, the normally silver-tongued spokesman declined to humor me.

The recess begins on March 29.