Despite operating unconstitutionally for over a month, SA has decided to move ahead with its plans as if nothing happened, an internal memo last week said.
The decision, apparently made by the heads of all three branches of SA, reverses the decision publicly announced at Monday’s SA meeting by All-Campus Judicial Council Chief Justice Madeline Blackburn. The former decision would have resulted in SA needing to vote again on all motions made this semester, something, it was noted that night, that could be accomplished in a bulk motion.
“After careful examination of our governing documents and past ACJC rulings, we have decided not to retroactively reaffirm our votes from this year,” the email read. “In SA’s history, senator succession has often been a messy issue […] but there is no precedent mandating that senators must reopen closed business in the event of a constitutional violation relating to unfilled vacancies.”
The decision means that SA will operate under the premise that all positions were confirmed and the freshman elections results were certified, and committees will meet as normal.
It also signals SA’s decision to move on from the issue of deputy speaker selections. Had senior Alhassan Omar not been considered a senator at the time of the selections, freshman Rebecca Lena would have been elected as deputy speaker at the Sept. 11 meeting, not freshman Alexander Pavlicin a week later.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the decision by SA leadership is the group of SA committee chairs and executive directors, since all but Administration and Review Committee Chair Alex Guerrero and Appropriations Committee Chair CJ Van Huben had been confirmed by the Senate this semester.
Without the reinterpretation, none of the other committees would be able to function as they would not have chairs.
The change in interpretation from Monday’s meeting will allow committees like the Administration and Review Committee to vote on measures like new organization proposals. The Administration and Review Committee rules require at least one senator to be present for quorum.
The SA leaders also addressed the possibility of an appeal in the email.
“It is also important to remember that constitutional appeals function as a way to compel action within the Senate and Executive branch,” the memo read. “In this case, it is highly likely that the compelled action in a potential appeal would be filling Alhassan [Omar’s] vacant senate seat.”
It is unclear if Omar or Lena plans on filing an appeal.
With this decision, SA is expected to continue with business as usual on Monday.
Junior Sharfuz Shifat has accepted an offer to fill Omar’s seat, he confirmed to the Campus Times Sunday.