Judicial Board Deems Election Bylaws Unconstitutional
Members of the Judicial Board have claimed that the Election Appeals Board — created after the 2011 student elections — violates the A.S. Constitution.
21 February 2012
Council created the Election Appeals Board in Spring Quarter 2011. In the election process, individuals or slates can file grievances, which are first heard by the Election Committee. If the plaintiff disagrees with the Election Committee’s ruling, she can bring the case to the Judicial Board. The job of the Appeals Board is to look at cases in the event that the plaintiff challenges the Judicial Board’s decision. According to Judicial Board Chair Polina Tsvetikova, the Appeals Board (Section 5.5) violates Article VII, Section 1 of the A.S. Constitution.
Under the new section, Section 5.5 in Title IX 2011-12 of the Constitution, individuals can appeal the sanctions or decisions set by the Judicial Board. If at least three members of the Appeals Board, which is compromised of members from each college council, decides to hear the case, the Board can overturn the original ruling. Under the addition, the Appeals Board retains sole jurisdiction over determining whether the Judicial Board acted with bias.
According to a presentation at the Feb. 15 A.S. Council meeting, “[Section 5.5] impedes the Judicial Board’s ability to make decisions in a manner conducive to the efficient well-organized election that the bylaws envision, and will ultimately bog down the appeal’s process even more than they were in last year’s elections cycle.”
According to the presentation, filing a complaint under the new bylaws can take more than three days, since the complaint must go through as many as three tiers of appeals: the Election Committee, the J-Board and then the Appeals Board.
“In case someone would like to appeal [the Judicial] Board’s decision, based on very ambiguous criteria ‘acting inappropriately,’ ‘evidence of partiality,’ as outlined in Section 5.5, the [Election Appeals Board] comes into place,” Tsvetikova said in an email.
According to Tsvetikova, the Election Appeals Board interferes with the Judicial Board’s duties.
“The Constitution states that the judiciary authority is vested in [Judicial] Board in regards to all cases and controversies that may arise, which includes cases during the elections period,” Tsvetikova said. “Creating the [Election Appeals Board] for the election period vests the final judiciary authority not in [Judicial] Board, which isn’t what the Constitution states.”
The A.S. Constitution, dated April 16, 2009, states that the Judicial Board retains judicial authority in all cases and controversies that are brought up in regard to the Constitution, rules of ASUCSD or any of its subordinate bodies.
The Judicial Board suggested removing the Election Appeals Board entirely and add a fourth section under Article VII in the Constitution. The proposed legislation would clarify that the Judicial Board has the authority to make the final decision, unless detailed evidence proving impartiality is presented. “This would therefore allow [Judicial] Board to act out its responsibility of being the judiciary authority for all cases,” Tsvetikova said.
According to Tsvetikova, the board deemed the bylaws unconstitutional in early November and called for a meeting with the A.S. Advocate General.
“After following up as early as Week Two of Winter Quarter, by Week Four the [Judicial] Board, after having addressed several members of Council, learned that Council as a whole was not aware of [Judicial] Board’s concerns,” Tsvetikova wrote.
According to A.S. Council’s standing rules, no changes can be made to the bylaws because the candidacy-filing period for the Spring 2012 election has already begun; it started during Week Five. The earliest the bylaws can be discussed would be Week Three of Spring Quarter and cannot be changed unless Council chooses to do so.
The Advocate General could not be reached for comment.