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Nap Time!!!

Friday, January 23, 2009
Judicial Council report

The Judicial Council hearing was delayed for two hours because neither side had briefs.

Now that the tone is set, the hearing itself went more or less smoothly. Some highlights:

The defense argument was probably best characterized by John Moghtader, which is that the "signatures justify the reason." Essentially, the Solicitor General argued that by virtue of the fact that the recall petition gathered the necessary signatures, it is specific enough. Since "specific" is a relative term, the Judicial Council has no authority to exercise oversight over what's approved by the student body.

This is largely my view, as well. Because the Constitution does not specify any limits on why a Senator can be recalled, I don't think "specific" can be meant as a legal term binding on the ASUC, but rather should be read as an informational term for the student body, who, when deciding whether or not to sign/vote for the petition, understand that what is written in the petition is the specific reason, and they should not sign/vote for it if they don't agree with the reason given (even if they want to recall him for something else). In practice, this doesn't matter at all, but I don't think the Judicial Council can assert authority to judge whether the reason is specific enough because students tend to be unwilling to avoid trying to manipulate the systems in the Constitution. In any case, how would you prove something like that?

John essentially argued that "specific" was the limit on why a Senator can be recalled. While he pointed out ridiculous examples of recall petitions (such as Senator X should be recalled because his eyes are kind of ugly), he seemed to think they were clearly invalid. I disagree, and can see nothing in the Constitution which suggests that a bullshit reason cannot be used for a recall. The check on whether or not the reason is bullshit comes from the students doing the signing/voting, not from the Judicial Council.

He argued that "specific reason" couldn't be "any reason" because the framers chose to put "specific in the Constitution." But while I agree that it shouldn't be treated as meaningless, there are other meanings, such as the informative one I note above. (The Solicitor General did not make this argument for the defense, though)

John tried to get a piece of evidence admitted. I didn't see it, but it was apparently an e-mail telling folks to sign the petition for more specific reasons (that weren't in the petition). I don't believe any other details were shared out loud, but one Judicial Council member thought that he was trying to admit it for the purpose of "character assassination." Think about what must have been in that e-mail such that simply sharing it was character assassination. (It was eventually suppressed as irrelevant, probably correctly) It reminds me of when Sonya Banerjee asked Dmitri Garcia about whether he knew anything about the Judicial Council or the charges he signed his name to calling for her removal from office, and was accused of character assassination because of how utterly ignorant Garcia's answers were.

Anyway, there may be a decision tonight.

posted by Beetle Aurora Drake 1/23/2009 12:49:00 AM #
Comments (4)
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you're off here, beetle.

go do the research into recall law.

the issue isn't reasons, it's specificity. people have to be careful to note that.

A reason such as "Tom ate tomatoes yesterday" would be valid according to the constitution. In that case Tom could of course defend against that charge, and perhaps the students (for whatever reason) would vote him out because they don't want a guy eating tomatoes.

But a charge such as "Tom's presence goes against the principles of proper tomato eating" would not meet the specificity requirement in the constitution.

This is so patently obvious it's a joke to argue any further.

The requirement of specific as opposed to any reason is meaningful; some recall laws have it; some don't. Ours does. Insofar as it means anything it means as I put forward above; you need to be somewhat specific. The recall against John wasn't specific at all.
I don't think you understand: There is no recall law to research as far as the ASUC is concerned. And while so patently obvious that it's a joke to argue any further, the Judicial Council took the other side.
I did not agree with the Judicial Council ruling and I am surprised to see you take the side of what I feel to be a ridiculous argument by the Solicitor General.

How are students supposed to know that there is a constitutional requirement for specificity? They aren't. Does somebody signing the recall petition mean that they are agreeing that it is specific? No. They are signing because the agree with what Nathan Shaffer has written there. The SG seemed to be arguing that students who signed the petition were also signing an agreement that the petition is specific, and this is not the case.

The reason there is a constitutional requirement of specificity is so that there is an ASUC check on petitions that are levied against it. If there were no rules, or there was no way to validate them, then the ASUC is subject to the whim of any student movement, without any notion of validity.

I could begin a campaign to recall the mayor of my town but it has to be executed according to the LAW in order to be valid. Simply gaining support from the people in the town does not validate it legally.
How are the recall petition signers supposed to know what the words mean? Or what the Senate is? You're probably right that the signers don't do their research to find out what exactly they're signing, but that's typically true of a lot of things we sign. How many times have you skipped much of an EULA because you figured you knew what it meant?

But you'd have to actually prove those things if you expect the Judicial Council to act and say "these guys didn't know what they were signing."

How many voters do you think actually know exactly what the elected officers do? When it comes to democracy, we typically assume things we know to be false.
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