Saturday, July 08, 2006
Oh, right, the hearing
I went to Ben Narodick's hearing in the Judicial Council against the GA referendum today. Blah blah stuff stuff. Attorney General Nathan Royer stole the show with his commentary.
His fundamental point was the same as mine: If you go by the letter of the law, the Elections Council acted properly, and Ben doesn't have a case. If you go by the spirit of the law, Ben is absolutely right that the GA referendum did not pass.
Personally, I'm a letter-of-the-law guy, which is why I think Ben should lose the case. I think nebulous concepts such as "spirit of the law" put the Judicial Council in a position with too much power, even when it's clear-cut, like in this case.
Nathan admitted that the Senate and GA shoved the GA referendum through without enough time for Nathan to properly demand an appropriate question. I think he admitted that the question, as written, was inadequate.
In some sense, I'm to blame for Ben's weaker case. Because my case was kind of haphazard (it was my first case), the question of bias was already resolved before the election. Had I known about how Nathan had been pressured, that case might have gone differently.
Ben's suggested remedy is a revote in the fall without the "abstain" option. There are significant Constitutional problems with this, but Ben's case basically asserted that "a vote to abstain" and "not voting" are different, and should be counted seperately. In particular, "a vote to abstain" should increase the total number of votes to pass the constitutional amendment by .6 of a vote, while a "non-vote" wouldn't affect it. Again, this is probably the spirit of the law, but it doesn't follow the letter.
Nathan Royer quotes:
"Ben is one of the three intelligent people in the ASUC."
blah blah spirit of the law- "although it is rarely upheld in this Association..."
In excusing his approval, we see that GA threats and bullying has affected the willingness of the Attorney General to do his job. His response to the ridiculously vague ballot question:
"I'm not happy about this [the referendum as presented to him], but I'm not going to be demonized for 'disenfranchising students' by shooting this down."
I can absolutely sympathize with Nathan. The GA is like a childish harpy that starts screeching whenever things don't go its way, and the Senate usually plays along. I suppose the whiners should be proud that they have intimidated officials into not doing their jobs.
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