In an early morning senate meeting, eight ASUCR senators, enough to supply a quorum, gathered to unanimously overturn an executive order by ASUCR President Nafi Karim to reinstate two removed justices. Additionally, Vice President of External Affairs Abraham Galvan has notified ASUCR of his intent to bring articles of censure against Karim and Executive Vice President Michael Ervin.
Previously, on Wednesday’s regularly scheduled ASUCR meeting, the senate voted to strike a section of the elections code and remove two justices from the judicial branch. The following day, Ervin in an email to ASUCR ruled that those actions were unconstitutional. The legitimacy of that ruling was disputed by Galvan and Vice President of Internal Affairs Fernando Echeverria.
At 8:24 p.m., Karim sent an email to some members of ASUCR in which he issued an executive order that reinstated the two justices and overturned the prior removal of a section of the elections code, and was later made public online at around 1 a.m. on Friday. In response, Galvan and other members of ASUCR called an emergency meeting at 7 a.m. on Friday.
During the meeting, Galvan asserted that Karim and Ervin were using their elected positions to further political goals in this year’s elections. “The president of ASUCR has made it very clear that he is in support of one of the parties that is running. I have personally witnessed the president giving advice and supporting one of the parties,” Galvan said. “The executive vice president is also running in a political party, in the same party that the president is supporting.”
Galvan further accused the judicial branch of conspiring with Karim and Ervin to “violate the ASUCR constitution” and further a political agenda. The senators voted to overturn Karim’s executive order unanimously.
“They can’t strong-arm the senators,” Senator Herman Sangha said. Sangha said the senate’s decision will “create a precedent where the president cannot just selectively email people and say it was a public email.”
Neither Karim nor Ervin were present at the meeting.
Meanwhile, the fight has called into question the legitimacy of the judicial branch. Asserting that the actions taken by ASUCR on Wednesday were unconstitutional, the judicial branch has continued to meet and make rulings on pending elections-related cases.
Elections Director Stephanie Rose said that the elections committee had repeatedly asked the judicial branch to transfer its pending cases to the committee, but received no response. “Apparently the judicial council was under the impression that they were still operating,” Rose said. Rose contended that rulings made by the judicial council after Wednesday’s meeting were invalid due to the lack of a quorum.
Adding to potential confusion, the judicial branch released a statement prior to the meeting alleging that the meeting was unconstitutional, due to not notifying the public 48 hours in advance. Galvan defended holding the meeting, asserting that the clause cited in the ASUCR Constitution refers only to regularly scheduled meetings.
Galvan also filed a request for a closed session during next week’s regularly scheduled ASUCR meeting on Wednesday, May 6, to have ASUCR vote on whether to censure Karim and Ervin.
Elections results are scheduled to be released on Wednesday, May 6.