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19 C.C.

(2012/13)

ASUO Constitution Court


MOTION FOR CLARIFICATION OF 16 C.C. 2012/2013 AND ARTICLE 5 22 OF THE ASUO CONSTITUTION
[Decided January 31, 2013]

OPINION by Chief Justice Schultz. Joined by Associate Justice Cosner, Associate Justice Apana, and Associate Justice Huegel.

I On January 26, 2013, ASUO student Sam Dotters-Katz (hereinafter Petitioner) filed a Motion for Clarification with the Constitution Court. Petitioners motion arises from this Courts ruling in 16 C.C. 2012/2013. In that case, the Court ruled that ASUO President Laura Hinman has been in non-fulfillment of duties for at least three weeks. As a result, the Court rules that the position of ASUO President is vacant pursuant to Article 14 3 of the ASUO Constitution. In accordance with Article 5 22 of the ASUO Constitution, VicePresident Nick McCain shall assume all duties pertaining to the office of the President effective immediately. Petitioner asks the Court to clarify whether Laura Hinman may resume office once the relevant duties have been fulfilled. Petitioner interprets Article 5 22 to mean that the ASUO President may resume office once the conditions that constituted a vacancy have been remedied. The crux of Petitioners interpretations rests on his assertion that vacancy of the office is distinguishable from removal from the office. According to Petitioner, [w]hile removal has to do with someone being forcibly

19 C.C. (2012/13)
taken out of office, vacancy means the office is without an occupant or incumbent. Essentially, Petitioners interpretation of this provision of the ASUO Constitution boils down to this:

If a President has not fulfilled his or her duties and is not absent, the solution is to declare the office vacant to empower someone else to step in and complete the task. When the tasks are complete, the vacancy is no longer proper.
In light of Petitioners motion, the Court will now address this constitutional issue.

II The Constitution Court has jurisdiction to entertain this petition for review. Pursuant to Article 11 2 of the ASUO Constitution, the Court shall have supreme and final authority on all questions of interpretation of this Constitution and any rules promulgated under it. Petitioners argument concerns the interpretation of Article 5 22 of the ASUO Constitution. This provision provides that the ASUO Vice President shall assume all duties pertaining to the office of the President in the Presidents absence and all other duties as delegated by the President. Invocation of this remedy requires the application of Article 14 3 of the ASUO Constitution, which states that [n]on fulfillment of duties for three weeks will be considered a vacancy of any office elected or appointed under this Constitution.

III Historically, there has been confusion regarding the proper methods of removing an officer, either elected or appointed, under the ASUO Constitution. In 35 C.C. 2011/2012, this Court ruled that the ASUO Constitution requires that where the removal of the ASUO President is concerned, the only two avenues for achieving this goal are impeachment and nonfulfillment of duties. See Article 14 4 of the ASUO Constitution. Thus a student seeking to remove the ASUO President has two alternatives.

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First, a student may file a grievance alleging that the ASUO President has been in non-fulfillment of duties for at least three weeks. If the student can prove this claim, then the Court has the authority to declare the office of ASUO President vacant pursuant to Article 14 3 of the ASUO Constitution. The ASUO President can potentially resume the office previously declared vacant for reasons discussed in the next section of this opinion. Second, [a]rticles of impeachment may be brought against the [ASUO] President by a 3/4 vote of the seated Student Senate. Upon such vote, the Constitution Court shall try the case and reach a decision by majority vote. Unlike option one, this alternative does not necessarily afford the ASUO President an opportunity to resume the office, because this course of action concerns removal from office. In 16 C.C. 2012/2013, Joanna Stewart filed a grievance alleging that Laura Hinman had been in non-fulfillment of duties for three weeks. This Court declared the office of ASUO President vacant after a hearing on the merits of Ms. Stewarts case. Therefore, the Court now turns to whether the ASUO President has an opportunity to resume the office previously declared vacant.

IV The Court agrees with Petitioners interpretation of Article 5 22 of the ASUO Constitution. This provision states that the ASUO Vice-President shall assume all duties pertaining to the office of the President in the Presidents absence (emphasis added). It is explicitly and unequivocally clear upon a cursory reading of this provision that the ASUO Vice-President does not assume the office of ASUO President. Rather, the ASUO Vice-President is merely required to fulfill all of the ASUO Presidents duties while the office remains vacant. In 16 C.C. 2012/2013, this Court declared the office of ASUO President vacant and instructed ASUO VicePresident Nick McCain to immediately assume the duties of the office. Despite contrary characterizations in the campus media and by the ASUO Executive, this Court did not remove Laura Hinman from office. The ASUO Constitution explicitly provides for the permanent removal of the ASUO President under

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Article 14 4. As such, Laura Hinman may be able to remedy her non-fulfillment of duties and resume office. Because the Courts ruling in 16 C.C. 2012/2013 was predicated on the invalidity of the four ASUO Elections Board appointees, Laura Hinman could (theoretically) work with acting ASUO President Nick McCain to remedy these invalid appointments and resume office at a later date. However, the Court will not address whether Laura Hinman has in fact remedied her nonfulfillment of office. It is entirely possible that this Court may address such concerns in a future decision.

V In sum, the Constitution Court rules that the ASUO President may resume office after having the office declared vacant pursuant to Article 14 3 of the ASUO Constitution. However, this Court has not been provided any information concerning Laura Hinmans supposedly remedial efforts. Therefore, ASUO VicePresident Nick McCain shall continue to assume all duties pertaining to the office of the President unless and until this Court rules otherwise.

It is so clarified.