Amendment to constitution reinstates judicial branch

UNA’s Student Government Association successfully amended Article V of its constitution and reinstated the judicial branch at the Senate meeting Feb. 16.

Fifty students voted in the online poll to amend the constitution to reinstate the branch, with the amendment passing 43-7.

“I wish SGA would have informed students about the vote a little more,” said senior Brittany Etherly. “It makes me wonder why no one knew.”

SGA President Sarah Green said the judicial branch’s responsibility will be to act as an appeals court which hears cases as a court.

“It will be nice for future SGA (members) to have a branch whose main job is to interpret the organization’s laws,” Green said, “Before, we didn’t have anyone who could give definitive answers.”

In Section 2 of the amendment it states the judicial branch “shall have original jurisdiction in all cases involving this Constitution and appellate jurisdiction involving inter- and intra- conflicts of SGA members and appeals from SGA members.”

SGA has done a lot of research on other schools’ student judicial branches to decide what duties the branch will have and make it as effective as possible, Green said.

She said senate removed the judicial branch in fall 2014. Senate gave the power of the judicial branch to the Rules Committee upon the branch removal.

“It also may act on any special case referred to it by the University Administration and by the Student Senate,” according to the amendment.

The change will bring five additional members into the organization, the student court will consist of four justices working under one chief justice.

The justices may be any full-time students, according to the amendment. The chief justice may be any junior or senior with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA. A minimum of one justice must have served at least one full year on a branch of SGA.

The Vice President of Senate and the Vice President of University Program Council must each appoint two members of the student court. The appointed must be approved by two-thirds vote of senate.

Appointment of chief justice is the responsibility of the SGA President, however, the three people Green had in mind declined the offer.

At the Senate meeting, Vice President of Senate Tyler Delano nominated sophomore Nicholas Edwards and current senator Megan Statom for justice. Vice President of UPC Nic Smith nominated UPC members Georgia Claire Park and Grant Gunn.

Three of the four nominated justices were approved by senate vote — Statom, Park and Gunn. They will be sworn into office March 9 marking the official reinstatement of the judicial branch.

The two unfilled positions are now the responsibility of Tyler Thompson, director of Student Engagement, who can appoint justices without senate approval, according to Article X of the SGA constitution.

Thompson has until March 9 to appoint a justice and chief justice.

The organization’s Code of Laws outlined the branch’s official duties, which the Rules and Regulations Committee is still drafting, Green said.

Senior Chris Dunn said he is in favor of the reinstatement of the judicial branch.

“It sounds like a good thing if it will help balance out the power in their government system,” he said.