There were two measures on the ballot in the Winter 2005 ASUCD Election. They are (in formatted and slightly modified form1):
The IRS Amendment
A constitutional amendment to amend to ASUCD Constitution, Article 1, Section 6.
Past actions taken by the ASUCD, have been in violation of Internal Revenue Code. However, these actions were taken without full knowledge of the law prohibiting ASUCD to take actions in promoting or taking stands against particular candidates. Recent ASUCD Resolutions in support of candidates running for city council have been brought to the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, for further investigation. In order to prevent ASUCD from losing its tax-exempt status, necessary language must be added to the ASUCD Constitution.
Section 6. (1) ASUCD is organized and operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes within the meaning of section 501(c)(3) if of the Internal Revenue Code.
(2) In accordance with Internal Revenue Service regulations, ASUCD is prohibited from directly or indirectly participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. This includes endorsing a candidate, making donations to a candidates campaign, engaging in fund-raising for a candidate, distributing statements for or against a particular candidate or becoming involved in any other activity that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate.
(a.) Activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501(c)(3).
Discussion of the IRS Amendment
This bill is a response to the so-called Lamargate controversy of 2004.
* KenBloom recommends you vote in favor of this. KenBloom believes that for the most part, ASUCD officials don't know all of the intricate details of local, state, and national laws, and that having this in the ASUCD constitution will mean it gets read and understood by every incoming senator, president, vice-president, etc... One wonders why they couldn't just put it in the Government codes, (and save the trouble of a ballot measure) but since they felt this was the place for it, I'm going to vote in favor.
ASUCD Court Amendment
A bill to add the "ASUCD Judicial Reform Act," a constitutional amendment, to the Winter 2005 election ballot.
In 2001, the elections process within ASUCD was taken entirely from the jurisdiction of the ASUCD Court. The Elections Committee was given direct jurisdiction over alleged campaign violations. Appeal of the Committee's decisions on these cases could be made to the Campus Judicial Board (CJB) of Student Judicial Affairs (SJA), a non-ASUCD body.
In effect this has shielded the Elections Committee from judicial review within ASUCD. Original jurisdiction over elections complaints fell upon a body that had not been assembled with an interest in judicial matters. The primary purpose of the Elections Committee is the administration of elections, and no members are hired for expertise or interest in jurisprudence. Furthermore the appeal process from the Elections Committee leads not to the Court but to SJA, a place far removed from ASUCD experience that most students know little about. And if the CJB of SJA were to actually issue a binding opinion involving orders upon the Elections Committee, we would have the ideologically repugnant situation of ASUCD operations being ordered by a non-ASUCD entity. CJB has avoided this however, refusing to issue binding orders pursuant to its appellate jurisdiction over the Elections Committee, which creates the similarly alarming circumstance of no entity actually exercising authority over the Committee.
This maldesigned system has since 2001 led to increasing cynicism and distrust of the electoral process in ASUCD. By the 2004 Fall election this erupted into a major controversy, with at least five cases coming before SJA, numerous Aggie articles, and significant damage to ASUCD's reputation.
This bill seeks to rectify this situation by placing the ASUCD Court in the appellate role rather than SJA. The Elections Committee shall retain "original jurisdiction" over elections complaints, and its decisions may be appealed to the ASUCD Court regarding "matters of law." This means that it shall remain the Elections Committee's role to investigate allegations, and the Court shall not interfere with its decisions as to the preponderance of evidence. The Committee's interpretation of or adherence to the bylaws, however, may be challenged in an appeal before the ASUCD Court. In this manner the administration of elections and the interpretation of jurisprudence are placed with the entities most qualified in their respective areas, there is a check-and-balance upon the elections process, and ASUCD operations shall not be ordered by non-ASUCD bodies.
A major complaint about the legitimacy of the Court has been the fact that they are appointed at the sole discretion of the ASUCD President. Though this is modelled after the national government, it really isn't applicable here for several reasons. Whereas a US president may appoint one or two Supreme Court justices during their tenure, higher turnover rates in the ASUCD Court may cause most of the Court to be appointed by a single president. Additionally, while the records of US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) nominees are abundant and carefully scrutinized, little is known about ASUCD Court nominees; the ASUCD Senate therefore, in confirmation hearings, has an extremely negligible ability to ascertain whether candidates are highly qualified or merely friends of the president. A more comprehensive selection process for ASUCD Court nominees is therefore critical to the health of the association.
There are also several aspects of this Amendments that make minor, nominal changes; usually these fix typographical errors that currently appear in Article VII of the Constitution.
Section 1. The Senate hereby amends ASUCD Constitution, Article VII:
Section 1 The judicial authority of the ASUCD shall be vested in one ASUCD Court (hereafter referred to as the ASUCD Court) and the Student Judicial Affairs / Campus Judicial Board.
Section 2 (1) The ASUCD Court shall:
a) Have the ultimate authority to interpret the wording of this Constitution and that of legislation enacted pursuant to this Constitution;
b)Review previously enacted legislation made by the Senate following a written request by any ASUCD member(s);
c)Review complaints regarding the Elections Committee or any other office or body of ASUCD;
(3)(2) The ASUCD Court may deny an appeal made to it or may grant the appeal in while whole or in part
Section 3(1) ASUCD Court shall consist of nine (9) ASUCD members.
(2) When vacancies arise on the court, appointments to fill the vacancy will be made by a committee consisting of the following:
(b)Two (2) ASUCD Senators;
(c)Internal Affairs Commission Chairperson;
(d)Election Committee Chairperson;
(e)Student Government Advisor (non-voting member of the Committee).
(3)The ASUCD Court shall decide upon then, questions that the Court feels are relevant in determining the qualifications of the applicants. These questions shall not be binding to the committee to ask these questions or limit itself to them.
(4)Appointments to the ASUCD Court must be approved by a majority vote of the entire Senate.
(5)All ASUCD Court Justices shall serve for the remainder of their membership in ASUCD, so long as it does not exceed four years.
(6)The President shall designate one of the Justices as the Chief Justice of the ASUCD Court when a vacancy arises in this position.
(7)ASUCD Court Justices may only be permanently removed by a 2/3 majority vote of the entire Senate
(1)Complaints alleging that a candidate violated election regulations will be filed with the Elections Committee
a)The ASUCD Court shall have appellate jurisdiction over elections. The Elections Committee shall retain original jurisdiction over potential disqualifications or violations in elections, but specific questions of law may be appealed to the ASUCD Court. As such, the ASUCD Court cannot sanction a candidate, but the Elections Committee must follow the legal precedent set by the Court.
b)If the Elections Committee finds that a candidate may be in violation of University regulations, or that the candidate's violation may have constituted a serious and wanton breach of the public trust, the committee must file a complaint with Student Judicial Affairs/Campus Judicial Board.
c)If the Elections Committee finds that a candidate has forfeit their eligibility for office as described in Article II, Section 2 of this Constitution, the decision may be appealed to Student Judicial Affairs/Campus Judicial Board.
Discussion of the Court Amendment
- Why exactly do we need a committee to appoint? If the senate does their job, shouldn't they give the candidates a hard time and the president a hard time to ensure that he's balanced? — KenBloom
- Does anyone want to give the juicer history of why and when the Elections Committee was given the power to decide elections complaints. Was it Tiqula Bledsoe's administration that pushed this through? — KenBloom
- Jucier than what? The story is addressed to the length of a paragraph in the history section of the ASUCD Court entry, complete with analogies to razing Carthage. As to the confirmation process. The Aggie and Alternate Presiding Justice Daniel Raff (Vice Chair of Court basically) agree with you, but I strongly disagree — the problem isn't that the Senators should just miraculously shape up; firstly they never have gotten more leverage out of the confirmation process since I've been around (three and a half years now), and I don't think there's any reason to expect that to change unless something IS changed; but moreover, I don't think its their personal fault. The way the confirmation hearings are set up right now they get to ask a few questions but essentially know nothing about the other candidates and cannot at that time learn enough about the candidate to make a properly educated decision. Either the confirmation process needs to be made much much more rigorious, or it needs to be scrapped. Furthermore, whereas US Presidents appoint only one or two members to the Supreme Court in their term, the high turnover rate in the Court means that one ASUCD President can appoint most of the Court, and these appointees, as I said, will not really be filtered through the Senate. Anyway, I will be speaking in favour of the bill at the forum tomorrow (Thursday), so I'll be able to elaborate and put it more clearly at that point. Thanks for your interest. -KrisFricke
- Thanks for the info. I can't be there tomorrow, but I also don't think I have any questions that I need to ask there. You're probably right about the senate being unlikely to get more leverage out of the confirmation process — the US Senate has the Judiciary committee to handle the icky details of the nominations, so they don't grill them on the Senate floor either. I endorse this amendment. We need it. — KenBloom
1. Slashed sections of the bills were removed to allow for better readability.