Amendments may check judicial power

Amendments may check judicial power

The UA Council will consider next Wednesday an amendment to the constitution that would allow Council to unilaterally remove a sitting president who fails to initiate the process of filling a vacancy on the Judicial Review Board, the board's chair, Olivia Brode-Roger '17, said in a meeting yesterday.

The amendment would have prevented the presidential impeachment stalemate that took place last spring. In that case, the Judicial Review Board needed to weigh in before Council could consider an impeachment, but the board wasn't able to do so since only two of the board's three seats were filled.

Brode-Roger also discussed several other proposed amendments that would affect the Judicial Review Board, and discussed some of her plans for the coming year.

She said that another proposed amendment would make it easier for the rest of the UA to override any very unpopular decisions the board might issue: together with the president's approval, the supermajority needed to amend the constitution would be able to do so without the extant restriction that the amendment must "lie on the table for at least one meeting," which can be especially burdensome when the amendment is proposed during the last meeting of a semester.

"Our decisions are incontestable and must be acted on immediately," she said. "We don't want to lower the bar [for overriding a decision] to below an amendment, [but] we can make it faster."

Brode-Roger also said that a more specific structure for the board has been proposed as an amendment.

She said the proposed structure would allocate the board's three seats to a sophomore, a junior, and a senior, with the junior acting as the committee's chair. Council would be able to choose each year, by a simple majority vote, to either promote each member to the next seat or remove the member from the board; those serving in the senior position would automatically be removed, even if they continued another year as an undergraduate.

Brode-Roger hopes that the new structure would improve the board's continuity.

These amendments are among those coming out of the UA's Bylaws Committee. That committee, UA Vice President Sophia Liu '17 said, is tasked with reviewing the UA's governing documents.

Besides constitutional amendments, Brode-Roger is also thinking about ways to better publicize the Judicial Review Board.

She plans to make the board more well-known by visiting each undergraduate dormitory during a house meeting and discussing "how the UA is on a constitutional level."

Since the summertime, Brode-Roger has also been looking at better ways for undergraduates to submit complaints to the board. At a meeting last summer, she discussed the possibility of creating an RT Queue to track complaints. Yesterday, she said that she will reach out to the UA's Technology Systems Group and discuss the potential options. She noted that it might prove simplest to ask IS&T to provide an instance of the queue so that the UA would not have to maintain the software itself.

— William Navarre