The Student Court will hear arguments on Sept. 23 regarding whether the executive cabinet’s attempt to remove Student Association President Christian Zidouemba in July was constitutionally valid, per a court order released Thursday.
The court rejected Zidouemba’s motion to dismiss the case, saying the facts cited by the former executive Chief of Staff Cordelia Scales, who filed the complaint last week, “plausibly establish” a violation of the SA Constitution. Former legislator general Dylan Basescu, who is representing Scales, alleged Zidouemba overstepped his presidential powers by terminating Scales after she voted to remove him from office and claims he is not the legitimate president of the SA.
Chief Justice Devin Eager wrote in a memorandum following the order that the court will hear arguments on who the legitimate SA president was immediately after the removal vote and at the time Zidouemba sent the email terminating Scales. The order does not specify if the court will rule on Zidouemba’s current legitimacy as SA president.
“The complaint should not be dismissed because it is not moot, improper, irrelevant, frivolous, previously decided or failing to comply with any appropriate rules of procedure or governing documents,” the memorandum reads.
Eager said the court does not need to decide immediately whether Article 15 allows executive cabinet members to permanently remove the SA president from office, as was claimed in Scales’s response to the defense. He said the court can wait to deliberate until after both sides have presented further arguments.
Eager said that per the court’s bylaws, it cannot rule on “political questions,” so it cannot agree to the defense’s argument that Zidouemba was not “incapacitated” as acting president. He said the court can only decide on whether the removal vote was constitutionally sound.
“The court does not get a vote,” the memorandum reads. “The president does not get a vote. Only the vice president, chief of staff, legislator general, treasurer and communications director may vote.”
Eager said the defense “completely misinterprets the Constitution in its motion to dismiss” when it argues that the president can only be removed temporarily. He said the executive cabinet’s decision on whether the president is temporarily or permanently unable to serve and their subsequent decision on whether to temporarily or permanently remove the president “are two distinct things.”
Legislator General Andrew Harding and Chief Counsel Juan Carlos Mora, who are representing Zidouemba in the defense, called on Scales to “reverse her position and end this lawsuit.”
“The OLG and OSLC are disappointed by the Student Court’s decision to deny Student Association President Zidouemba’s motion to dismiss, but respect the Student Court’s power of judicial review,” they said.
Dylan Basescu, who is representing Scales in the case, said he is “confident” in the plaintiff’s case. He said he requests Zidouemba respect any judgment made by the court.
“The court today confirmed that nobody in the SA is above the law,” he said.
Both parties have until Sept. 15 at 11:59 p.m. to submit briefs to the chief justice. The court will hold a public hearing on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m. in the Burns Moot Court Room.