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Nap Time!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006
By the way

In case you're wondering why I'm harping on this, it's not just because legal technicalities are fun. There are serious implications for the fairness and justice of future elections. Consider a hypothetical:

Candidate W is charged in front of five justices for some campaign violation.

Justices X, Y, and Z all hold that W violated the by-laws and should receive one censure, but for three different reasons, A, B and C.

How I would read the rule being discussed would be to consider the decisions as follows:

X: W violated the by-law for reason A

Y: W violated the by-law for reason B

Z: W violated the by-law for reason C

However, in light of the appeal denial, the way they should be considered is like this:

X: W violated the by-law, and
Reason A is true

Y: W violated the by-law, and
Reason B is true

Z: W violated the by-law, and
Reason C is true

And thus, the "narrowest grounds" is to rule that "W violated the by-law," but for no reason.

Already this is pretty silly, but there are practical realities now. Suppose a candidate next year wants to campaign, but doesn't want to violate this by-law. How does this candidate do it? Does she avoid satisfying reasons A, B, and C? Only two of the three? None of these reasons are reasons why W violated the by-law, after all. Where does this new candidate get her guidance? Apparently, the Judicial Council can declare candidates in violation of by-laws without any reason whatsoever.

These are real issues, and the Judicial Council does no one but itself a service by coming up with excuses that, in the short term, let the Judicial Council avoid having to go to another hearing, but in the long term, twist the rules by which the ASUC functions into a nonsensical, meaningless mess. Now would be the time to start impeaching justices (under Title XXI, Article II, Section 2.1.5), not when they happen to rule against you, and a loud constituency whines.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 5/23/2006 05:47:00 PM #
Comments (6)
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You make a good point, Beetle, but somewhat analogously, civil and criminal juries come to agreement on questions with different rationales for doing so. In my opinion, that's not unfair on criminals or defendants.

Juries may have to answer a series of questions, but even when answering them, jurors can each have different reasons for saying "yes" or "no", or "guilty" and "not guilty."
Juries differ from judges in that they are not expected to interpret the law. Judges are asked to, and are required to by the JRPs in the ASUC.
Hmm, that's a good point.

But I think you said the Judicial Council is not bound by precedent anyway. So wouldn't whatever rationale they used not necessarily be a guide to future candidates anyway?
Beetle, the rationale was given in the original decision, it is just so simple that you fail to recognize it: "We subscribe to the “Marks” Rule in issuing a ruling based on the narrowest grounds such that the opinions concur. The majority of the Judicial Council believes that the chalkings did violate"

That's it, and we explained why that is legitimate in the appeal rejection.

By the way, you should stop bitching about a "lack of effort" on behalf of the Council, considering the fact that we wrote the original decision at the beginning of finals and met to decide on the appeal at the tail end of finals. Do not forget that we are students first, which is why we can serve in the ASUC. Rationally, we should have waited until after finals, but wow here's an idea, we actually care about the institution and wanted to get results out in a timely manner at the same time as upholding the law. That's quite a challenge, but we did it.

Hmmm, kinda feels good to no longer have to maintain a professional "no response to public criticism" policy.
Jim, you can bet that if I were a candidate, I'd be bitching on the grounds of equal protection, not precedent, if I were held to a different standard than another candidate, even in a different year.

Bobby, no one's complaining about the Judicial Council's lack of effort. I've commended it for its effort in the past. There are good reasons to avoid another hearing beyond laziness.

I'm as concerned about upholding the law as you are. It makes absolutely no difference to me whether SA got dumped or not, or whether the referenda passed or not. I don't use either the ASUC or the GA, and I get fee remissions.

The quote you give is exactly the reason I was so disturbed by the decision, because it's not a rationale, it's just a decision. It's the narrowest decision that the majority of justices gave. It is not a concurrence of rationale any more than a finding that "Joe violated the by-law by doing a backflip" and "Joe violated the by-law by not doing a backflip" is a concurrence, and the reason the Marks rule is not supposed to be applied like this is because it leaves no standard for judgment.
Or, for the more detailed version, an inclusion of rationale, at least for "actively campaigning" would look something like...

"Both the White and Banerjee dissents find that the defendents actively campaigned, though on different grounds. The White dissent holds that chalked campaign slogans are always active campaigning at all times they are visible, while the Banerjee dissent holds that to be the case only in certain circumstances. Since a continuum can be established with the Banerjee dissent having a narrower rationale than the White dissent, the Marks rule is applied, and the Council holds the defendents guilty of violations of the by-law because the campaigning meets the conditions set in the Banerjee dissent."

Better yet, though, would be to reproduce the relevant parts of the Banerjee dissent.
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