By Chelsea Langley, Staff Writer –
SGA recently added the Judicial Branch as a branch of government to take over the responsibilities of the elections commission and to hear any disputes in SGA.
SGA Vice President Andrew Keil said that one of the main reasons for the Judicial Branch was to improve the SGA elections process.
“It was hard to keep people interested in the elections commission because it was only relevant three to four weeks out of the year during election season,” Keil said. “It was hard to even get the elections commission together for the fall semester which we got rid of last semester because a lot of students weren’t involved in that to begin with. So, we pushed the elections together into only spring and then we created the Judicial Branch taking over the responsibilities of the elections commission.”
The Judicial Branch will consist of one Chief Justice and two Associate Justices. Wesley Bolton’s was nominated for Chief Justice, and his appointment is being voted on this Tuesday, March 6. Like Keil, Bolton said that he also believes the Judicial Branch will improve the elections process.
“Our previous system of having an elections commission maintained good elections, but since it was a temporary committee, it was never possible for it to spend a full year cycle to work on election,” said Bolton. “This gives our organization the opportunity to constantly improve since it exists year round.”
Keil said another reason he felt SGA needed a Judicial Branch because there previously wasn’t an unbiased group to appeal to if the senator or someone outside of SGA felt that the Executive Branch did something unconstitutional.
“The only one that had the authority to do that [adjudicate] was the Parliamentarian which was a biased factor in my opinion considering they were appointed by the President,” said Keil. “So I felt like there needed to be an unbiased outside group that students, senators, or even the executive board could appeal to if they felt there was some type of violation of the rules of SGA.”
The Judicial Branch has other duties as well, such as serving on different committees and boards and hears any cases brought before it such as honor court, conduct board and parking appeals.
If anyone is interested in joining the Judicial Branch in the future, Keil said there isn’t much responsibility and it isn’t very time consuming, but that members must know about the elections process. Because of this, the Chief Justice will probably usually be a student who has been in SGA so that they know how to prepare for elections.
Bolton hopes the addition of the Judicial Branch will improve student participation in SGA.
“I hope that I can put plans in place to encourage people both in and out of SGA that their voice matters, and that SGA is here for them,” said Bolton. “I want to encourage those who are passionate to run and become members, and I want those who want to participate who aren’t members to reach out to their representatives and share their opinions. Hopefully in its role as a judiciary, the Branch won’t have to change anything. We will be here if any issues arise, but we hope this is not necessary.”