ASUCD President Alex Lee vetoes amendment for creation of Judicial Council

GENESIA TING / AGGIE

Veto included revision abandoning creation of oversight committee for judicial council

Last month ASUCD President Alex Lee issued a series of vetoes on legislation passed by the student Senate, including a revision veto on a constitutional amendment to create a Judicial Council and a Judicial Council Oversight Committee (JCOC).


Constitutional Amendment #50, authored by the Internal Affairs Commission (IAC) chair Nick Flores, was passed on Jan. 26 with a vote of 9-1-1. Senator Sofia Molodanof voted against the measure while Senator Shaitaj Dhaliwal abstained.


“ASUCD Constitutional Amendment #49 was placed on the Fall 2016 ASUCD ballot and passed with an 86.49% affirmative vote, effectively dissolving the ASUCD Court,” Flores wrote in the amendment. “Given the necessity for an adjudicating body in student government, this Amendment seeks to create a new, functioning Judicial Council in ASUCD. Additionally, this Amendment creates a Judicial Council Oversight Committee. This Committee, comprised of ASUCD officials from each branch of government, would maintain the power to either concur with or overrule the Judicial Council’s ruling.”


The JCOC, which would have the power to overturn decisions by the Judicial Court by a two-thirds majority, would have consisted of three voting members, the ASUCD vice president, the chair of the Judicial Council and the chair of the IAC.


Lee’s revision of the amendment removed the proposition of the JCOC, saying that the Judicial Council should have final say on any ASUCD decision.


“I am returning CA#50 with a veto and recommending deletion of JCOC because I believe an appellate jurisdiction for the appellate jurisdiction is redundant,” Lee said in a statement regarding his veto. “If it is for this new Council to make judicial decisions under the Constitution, it does not make sense for another body to overturn their decisions. Especially as 2/3 of the JCOC are members of the Executive and Legislative Branches, who both historically have been opposed to judicial rulings.”


In an email interview, Lee described the unnecessary nature of having the final word be given to the branches who originally write the legislation before sending them to a judicial board.
“Allowing members of the Legislative and Executive to overturn Judicial rulings as the last appellate power is not only redundant but defeats the very purpose of Judicial Review,” Lee said. “What is the point of having another branch to check the other two if the original two (who first saw the legislation [IAC] and later at the vote and signing [VP]) can just reinforce their original will? It makes no sense to me that there is a mechanism for which the two other branches can just reassert their will. JCOC is the highest appellate power and thus the last word. So it makes no sense for the two branches to have the first and last word if you are seeking to have judicial checks. There definitely is an imbalance of power and renders the Judicial Council a useless piece of our already over-bloated ASUCD bureaucracy. If Judicial Council is to be created, it needs to be able to stand on its own two feet and not be rendered useless from the get go.”
Molodanof, who voted against the amendment, said that the significant inclusion of members from the other ASUCD branches in the JCOC did not create adequate representation for the student body.


“Basically, I didn’t agree with the JCOC portion of the bill, which is an appeals committee,” Molodanof said via email. “I wanted more student representation from the judicial board to be a part of the appeals team or to not have one at all. I didn’t like how other branches would have a say in appealing a vote by the judicial board (especially since the judicial board’s job is to act as a check). It didn’t really make sense to me that it could just be overturned by the majority of people from another ASUCD branch (exec and legislative).”
Lee said that since the dissolution of ASUCD’s judicial branch in the fall of 2016, concerns have been expressed to the Senate and administration over the need for judicial review. Since the Senate did not convene on Feb. 16, in solidarity with A Day Without Immigrants, the amendment will not be up for a vote on the winter ballot. According to Lee, Flores has stated that he will urge the next president to call for a special election in an effort to create a new judicial branch.

Written by: Ivan Valenzuela — campus@theaggie.org