Judicial Ruling 2019-JC-001
ASMSU Judicial Council Ruling 2019- JC-001
Ruling Date: 14 March 2019
ASMSU Constitution Article IV and ASMSU Bylaws Article 9
By the powers vested in the Judicial Council under the provisions established in Article 14 of the ASMSU Constitution, be it here established the ruling for the percentage required to pass a resolution by initiative cited in submission 2019-JC-001.
In a ruling of 6-1, the Supreme Court ruled that the percentage required to pass a resolution by initiative is 5%. The Supreme Court came to this conclusion because in the bylaws (9-5 pg. 41) it specifically references passing a resolution when stating that 5% of student signatures are required for an initiative, while in the constitution (IV-ii) the required 2% for an initiative is only specified for constitutional and bylaw amendments.
Dissenting Opinion: When assessing the governing documents of ASMSU, the constitution must always be the highest authority. Therefore, I must disagree with the recent finding of the Supreme Court in regards to the conflicting wording found in the governing documents over the student body’s power of initiative. Under article IV section ii of the ASMSU constitution, the student body may enact constitutional and bylaw amendments via a vote of the student body, provided that the initiative petition has garnered the signatures of at least 2% of the ASMSU membership and the full proposed text is provided. However, it does not mention in the constitution anything about the methodology to pass a resolution by power of initiative. Yet, in the bylaws, Article 9 section 5 sub points A&C, it says that the power of initiative may be used for the student body to pass amendments to the constitution, bylaws AND pass resolutions through a vote by the student body. But, the aforementioned section of the bylaws also states that in order for an initiative to reach the ballot, the full wording of the text and the signatures of 5% of the student body must be provided. This difference of percentages, 2% vs. 5%, is the only issue at hand. It is my opinion that although the constitution does not explicitly mention resolutions whereas the bylaws do, we must assume that since the wording is nearly identical in both cases, that resolutions should be included under the rule of 2%. To not do so would undermine the superiority of the constitution and the intent of the power of initiative. Furthermore, this constitutional oversight must be corrected and senate should work diligently to fix this conflict as soon as possible. It is the Supreme Court’s job to interpret the governing documents of ASMSU, both the exact text of the law and the intent of the law. It is my belief that the power of initiative is intended to voice the opinion of the student body and as such, resolutions must be implied under the current wording. It is for these reasons that I must respectfully dissent the finding of this court.
Policy Reference: ASMSU Constitution and ASMSU By-Laws
ASMSU Constitution (IV-ii)
- Associated Student Power
MSU-Bozeman students may enact Constitutional and Bylaw amendments by initiative on all matters pertaining to ASMSU. Initiative petitions must contain the full text of the proposed amendment, and shall be signed by at least two percent of the ASMSU membership. All initiative petitions must be filed with the ASMSU Senate Speaker. Initiative petitions regarding Constitutional amendments shall be filed at least one month prior to the earliest general election at which the initiative will be voted upon during the general election.
ASMSU By-laws (9-5)
- Legislation and Resolutions
- The students of MSU may make changes to the Constitution or Bylaws and pass resolutions by power of initiative.
- Initiatives may not deal with allocations of fee money.
- Initiative petitions must contain the full text of the proposed measure, shall be signed by at least 5% percent of the qualified electors. Petitions shall be filed with the Elections director at least 3 weeks prior to the election at which the measure will be voted upon.
- The validity of the initiative petition shall not be questioned after the election is held.
Minutes for the meeting held 14 March 2019 can be found on the Judicial Page of the ASMSU Website.
END OF DOCUMENT