Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Now, if you want my ideas on what actually could be done, I'll do something rare and provide one, besides just pointing out why all other ideas suck. I should note, though, that I don't think the system failed at all this summer. I think it worked exactly as it was supposed to, and preserving the same fundamental structure would be fine with me. I also want to say that this idea also sucks in various ways, but it sucks somewhat less than the "iron fist of justice (as defined by us)" approach favored by Student Action.
Have a different body than the Judicial Council hear elections violation cases
There isn't a fundamental democratic reason why the Judicial Council needs to be the panel hearing elections violations. The Judicial Council is primarily formed to make sure government officials follow the rules they are bound by. This is an internal process, and I think it's significantly different than the external process of determining whether candidates have followed a set of rules.
Thus, a potential approach would be to name a different panel to hear election violation cases. This panel would not be responsible for making sure that any such convictions are consistent with the Constitution, but only to determine whether candidates have violated the bylaws. Then, if candidates feel like their rights have been violated somehow, they can appeal to the Judicial Council, which is responsible for making sure that this new panel followed the rules that it was bound by (i.e. an internal process), as well as checking to make sure those rules were consistent with the Constitution.
The biggest advantage here is that people are no longer appealing to the same panel which DQed them. This makes it hard to speculate about vast Judicial Council conspiracies demanding the introduction of immensely expensive lawyers.
The secondary, and more subtle, advantage is that the Judicial Council, which would no longer take on cases in which individual students are defendants, would no longer need to try to stick to a plaintiff-defendant structure where the defendant has special rights, since the defendant would always be a government official acting in some official capacity. For example, no longer could a government official violate the rules and then refuse to talk about it, citing a right to avoid self-incrimination, since the defendant is not the individual student, but the government authority she is exercising. This would make the Judicial Council a tool for students to protect their rights on an individual level from government abuse, and completely separate it from serving as a tool with which students can attack each other. (This advantage can be gained even without creating a new panel, by simply having a different set of rules for the Judicial Council to operate with for internal cases and elections cases.)
The biggest disadvantage, of course, is the political circus that would entail appointing such a panel. I don't really mind this too much, though, if it displaces the political circus surrounding Judicial Council appointments, since no one ever gets disqualified, so it hardly matters who is in charge of disqualifications. If, as a consquence of this, the Judicial Council becomes a less political body in terms of holding the ASUC to its own rules, I think this is a feature, not a bug.
The other disadvantage is finding people to do the job. Who would want it? I'm sure the Judicial Council would probably be happy to be able to avoid the job of hearing elections violations and dealing with the accompanying lawsuits, but finding Judicial Council members is hard enough as it is. Finding volunteers to serve as pincushions on this new panel might be pretty tough.
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