Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Elections Council Chair Jessica Wren filed two charge sheets with the Judicial Council seeking an advisory opinion on two issues.
The first is the one I mentioned yesterday about timing of referenda. The constitution says:
The vote on an initiative, referendum, or amendment shall take place at the next regular election following receipt of the petition or vote of the Senate (or Graduate Assembly, as provided herein), provided that the date of receipt or Senate (or Graduate Assembly) vote is before the end of the candidate filing period for that election; otherwise, the vote shall take place at the second regular election thereafter.The filing period ends this Friday (March 16). The question is:
I am seeking an advisory opinion from the Judicial Council as to whether propositions approved by vote during the Senate Meeting held on Wednesday March 21, 2007 will be allowed to be on the ballot in the 2007 ASUC Elections, provided that they have fulfilled all of the other requirements outlined in the ASUC Constitution and By-Laws to be included on the ballot.My personal opinion is that this is an open-and-shut case. The vote is after the end of the filing period. Therefore, it cannot be on this year's ballot. The Judicial Council probably doesn't even need a hearing.
The second issue is more subtle, and has to do with campaign finance. The proponents of the TGIF referenda have already spent a shitload, and don't want to be held to campaign spending restrictions (the reason they gave was funny: It would be unfair to proponents to have to limit spending, since there is only one choice. Opponents don't exist, which is actually fairly accurate). My opinion is that, since the campaign finance limits specifically mention Senate and Executive races, and don't mention propositions, there are no campaign spending limits on propositions. There probably should be, but that would make it harder to pass propositions, so don't expect any action on this by the Senate any time in the next few decades.
However, a second issue is whether they have to document their spending. Clearly, they have to document their campaign material, as that is in the campaign violations section which specifically mentions propositions. Do they have to submit forms documenting their spending? The section on campaign finance mentions "candidates," so maybe not. However, just how much of a "candidate" is a proposition? More importantly, does the public have a right to know how much is spent on proposition campaigns, just like they have a right to know how much is spent on Senate and Executive campaigns?
This issue isn't explicitly raised by Wren (she just asks which campaign spending restrictions apply), so I don't know if it will be answered by the Judicial Council.
More problematic is her request for an injunction:
I have requested a preliminary injunction against the Proponents and Opponents, primary and otherwise, from distributing campaign material. This is done with high regard for those Proponents and Opponents so that we can prevent a situation in which they participate in actions that will be found to be in violation of the ASUC By-Laws after the Judicial Council's opinion is administered, for which censures may be a sought. I would hate for the Proponents and Opponents of any Referenda to be punished for acting out of ignorance if I could so prevent them.I think that an injunction against Proponents and Opponents (who, to my knowledge, don't exist yet) treads on free speech and could not be put into place. I think that Proponents and Opponents should understand the risk in acting while ignorant, but should be allowed to take that risk.
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