Tuesday, October 24, 2006
"I hate democracy"
While the principles of "handing out money to people who sue us and lose" made for interesting conversation, I actually think that, in terms of the long-term health of the ASUC, the remaining clause of SB51 and its followups are actually more important. I believe the current status of that clause is:
"NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the ASUC Senate, Executives, and Judicial Council work together to amend the ASUC By-laws and Constitution to improve future ASUC elections."If at first glance you think it appears to be completely meaningless, you're pretty much right. It's essentially a resolution saying "You know, the ASUC should probably have rules that don't suck." Bravo, dudes. Now, if only you could actually get around to writing rules that don't suck, maybe we'd be more impressed. Just to pull a random example from a hat, under the current election bylaws, counting votes for the ASUC Executive Elections does not almost surely find a winner. In fact, it's possible that the Elections Council has to count the votes for eternity.
There are some problems with this resolved clause, even if it doesn't do anything. The most obvious is the violation of separation of powers, in that the Senate can't tell the other branches of government what to do, as this bill seems to. A better phrasing might have been "The ASUC Senate consult with the Executives and Judicial Council" or some such.
The next obvious problem is that the ASUC Senate, Executives, and Judicial Council can't amend the Constitution, and, while they can propose amendments for vote, can't officially support them, as this bill does. While passing a bill that calls for better elections but simultaneously violates one of the most fundamental principles of democratic elections (that the government can't take a side) has about the appropriate level of incompetence-induced irony you'd expect from an ASUC bill, there's still time to head it off.
Those are the two major Constitutional problems that could easily land this bill in front of the Judicial Council, which, while funny, is probably not a great result for the ASUC.
More problematic, though, are the potential changes that the supporters of this bill actually want to change. One of the most dangerous I've heard is a stronger check on the Judicial Council. If the Senate can override the Judicial Council (and I don't know what other check they may be considering), then what little rights individual students who don't have connections to senators had would be gone. The Judicial Council needs this independent power of judicial remedy if we want to have a system where individual rights are protected.
Another idea I've heard floated is to have the Judicial Council chair appointed by the Senate. The idea, of course, would be for the Senate to find a friendly impotent Judicial Council member and appoint her as chair, in hopes that the Judicial Council becomes flabby and useless. This idea isn't as horrendously bad as removing the Judicial Council's power to protect individual student rights over the objections of the Senate/Executives, though.
An idea I haven't heard floated but I have heard hinted at is to have the Judicial Council be bound by the opinions of other people as to what is and is not a violation of the rules. Which, of course, would eliminate the whole point of having a Judicial Council.
Last week's minutes contain some cryptic transcriptions from the ConReview report (p. 23-26) of Vishal Gupta's comments:
Maintain a system of checks during the summer when President and Senate are gone; how to check the Judicial Council. Reference Constitution, By-laws, JRPs.This is sort of silly, since there wouldn't really have been any option besides appealing to the Judicial Council even if the Senate and Executives were in session. I suppose impeachment was an option, but that wouldn't be retroactive, and using the government powers to impeach folks during an election among parties which already have power in the government is pretty frightening for democracy.
Senate should take more authority over Judicial Council (not decisions or closed sessions). Should be stipulations in Constitution or By-laws that there is a provision to deal with the situation to deal with the Judicial Council full authority.This is something I would like to see translated into English by someone who was at the committee meeting.
Look at Judicial Council By-laws and consider inputting restrictions to ensure they remain involved with the ASUC throughout the year – hold them responsible for working with the Senate to work towards consistency.And so on. I realize it must be excrutiating to these people that they don't have total control, but again, I remind folks, sometimes, in a democracy, you don't get what you want.
Major changes to the Constitution should be seriously considered in this Committee before being presented to the students.
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