Disgruntled student election candidates will have the opportunity to appeal the results to a “fully functioning” Student Supreme Court today.
Three new members of the court were confirmed at Monday night’s Senate meeting as Supreme Court justices: Christopher Weaver, Jocelyn Oliver and Louis Jean-Baptiste.
The three new appointments added enough members to the formerly understaffed portion of Florida A&M’s judicial branch to operate in “quorum.”
The FAMU Student Constitution states that five justices constitute the branch acting in quorum. Before Monday’s appointment, the Supreme Court was operating with three members.
According to the Constitution, “The concurrence of the majority present shall be necessary to render a decision, verdict or interpretation.”
Love said past judicial branches have not been sustainable, resulting in a low number of student cases seen and lack of student involvement in the branch. The branch from his freshman year in SGA was the most active one he has seen in his tenure at FAMU, he said.
Last year’s court only saw several cases, he said, the most prominent of which dealt with an election results appeal during the Ms. FAMU election in the spring.
Last year was not the first time the Student Supreme Court has lacked enough members during an allotted time of the school year to operate as a functioning portion of the Judicial Branch.
In fall 2009, the Supreme Court was also not in quorum and a final decision could not be reached with the Elections and Appointment Committee of the Student Senate to confirm student Kashif Smiley as Chief Justice. An appeal was filed with the administration on Nov. 17, because the court did not have enough members to constitute a legitimate vote.
This year, Love said he hopes to see a better outcome with the appointment of the new Chief Justice.
“It’s (the Senate’s) job to make sure that the people we select over here are ready for the job and can do the job,” Love said of the case. “Of course it’s sometimes political, but I hope that they have faith in the people we select and give them the opportunity to do their job.”
Part of the court’s duties, as listed in the constitution, includes presiding over “cases and controversies involving questions of Constitutionality of actions by the students, student governing groups, and student organizations, violations of the System of Student Body Statues and conflicts between students, student groups, or organizations.”
Love said he conducted interviews over the summer for Judicial Branch positions, and the new members have been appointed since the first day of school. The Constitution reports that, although the SGA President can appoint seven justices, a two-thirds vote from the Senate is required to officially confirm them into the positions.
It was important, he said, to have an active Supreme Court in quorum in time for student elections.
“If something happens during elections, it’s important that students have the first say,” Love said.
Henry Kirby, dean of student affairs, said having the Supreme Court fully staffed and functioning is vital in maintaining a balance in student government.
“Each branch is supposed to be autonomous and equal. You can’t have checks and balances without a judicial branch,” Kirby said. “If you didn’t have a judicial branch, there would be no way within the student government for the executive branch to be checked or the legislative branch to be checked.”
Love said he is in the process of interviewing candidates for the Chief Justice position, and should have an appointment by homecoming.