SGA President Kara vetoes Senate’s bill declaring a mistrial

SGA President Kara vetoes Senate’s bill declaring a mistrial

SGA President Kara vetoes Senate’s bill declaring a mistrial
April 23
18:04 2019

Student Government Association President Muhammad Kara vetoed the Senate’s bill declaring the April 2 SGA Supreme Court case a mistrial. The SGA Supreme Court case in question ruled that the next SGA president and vice president’s terms will begin June 1, meaning that one of them will need to be on campus to hold office hours.

The vetoed bill, S2019-B15, was introduced to the SGA Senate on April 10 by College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Senator Shane Warren, along with Moot Court members Cassidy Wray and Angie Whistler.

“I created this bill due to the fear by students and senators that the checks and balances, the separation of powers, had gone [awry],” Whistler tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. “Overwhelming[ly], Senators [voted] yes because the bylaws’ boundaries are clear. This veto’s justification is a prime example of that fear becoming real.”

Kara cited the SGA Constitution, Article VI, Section 5, Subsection A in his reasoning, which states “the Supreme Court shall have binding original jurisdiction over disputes arising over this Constitution, the Student Government Association Bylaws and its component documents, actions of the Student Senate and Student Elections.”

“This bill in essence does not allow the Supreme Court to interpret the Student Government Association’s governing documents,” Kara said in his reasoning statement. “There is precedent for the Supreme Court interpreting our governing documents. For example, the Supreme Court has made interpretations in the past, such as ruling on the meanings of “simple” and “absolute” majority and ruling on the meaning/scope of “student body” in governing documents (after the GSC referendum election).”

Kara said that in this case, “a student wanted an interpretation of our governing documents.”

“Furthermore, this situation was not classified as a hearing due to the nature of this dispute,” he said. “If any student asks for an interpretation [it] is the sole duty of the Supreme Court to provide that interpretation.”

SGA President-elect Yolian Ogbu and Vice President-elect Hillary Shah previously told the North Texas Daily that the rule “is twisted from the constitution to make it something else,” and pointed out that it was announced shortly after Ogbu and Shah announced internship opportunities over the summer.

Shah said the issue was about more than her and Ogbu.

“This story and bill isn’t about us or our campaign, but rather about the separation of powers and inner [functions] of SGA that are being overstepped by the judicial and executive branch in a dangerous precedent,” Shah said.

In a series of tweets, Warren said the SGA bylaws establish no procedure other than hearings and that if there was not a hearing, it was not a constitutional procedure.

“The vetoed bill essentially said ‘no, you can’t unconstitutionally invent a procedure that was never established by the Senate to rule on presidential requirements in the middle of an election without a hearing,'” Warren tweeted. “We’re going to attempt to override this veto.”

Warren said he and others will introduce what he called The Separation of Powers resolution, which will address the “powers of the senate to impose additional duties on the president, and the fact that the constitution never mentions physical presence in the SGA office as a presidential duty.”

“[The resolution] also mentions that the Constitution only empowers the President to direct the [vice president] to take on additional duties, and doesn’t mention physical presence in the SGA office as a [vice presidential] requirement either,” Warren tweeted. “I suspect that this will be vetoed too, but we will fight this unconstitutional subversion of separation of powers anyway.”

SGA will meet at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in Union 332.
Featured Image: Current SGA President Muhammad Kara addresses members of SGA at a meeting on Jan. 23. Image by: Ashley Gallegos.

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Lizzy Spangler

Lizzy Spangler

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