Belmont University’s student government passed an amendment that will create a judicial review committee at its meeting on Monday night.
The legislation was brought to the floor by representatives Skyler Schmanski and Cole Thannisch, both of whom are on SGA’s Policy Review committee.
The amendment came as a result of heated debate during SGA’s previous meeting over Policy Review’s role in interpreting legislation and constitutional bylaws.
In a speech to their fellow congress members, Schmanski and Thannisch said that they were introducing the amendment in the wake of concerns “with the current judicial structure of this organization.”
“Our constitution has an entire section dedicated to the Executive Branch and a whole section dedicated to the Legislative Branch, but not a single article for the Judicial Branch. This shortcoming demands a true fundamental change,” Schmanski said.
Currently, the policy review committee deals with all matters related to interpreting and reviewing legislation. However, Schmanski and Thannisch felt the committee was having to spend too much time on interpreting judicial issues, rather than focusing on legislative matters.
“After much discussion, we have come to the conclusion that this is not only unfair to the rest of congress, it is unfair to policy review,” Schmanski said.
The amendment would allow for the creation of a brand new Judicial Review committee, the first in the history of Belmont’s SGA.
Thannisch explained how the Judicial Review committee would work.
“It will have the exclusive ability to interpret the constitution and its bylaws. The board will hear all cases regarding violation of the constitution or its bylaws and all cases of impeachment. The Judicial Review Board is strictly limited to these essential roles,” Thannisch said.
He further explained that the board would be comprised of seven members. The first six will be representatives from the other three committees, with two coming from each committee. The seventh member will be the chair of policy review, who will also function as the chair of judicial review.
Thannisch stressed that Policy Review will still be the chief authority in congress when it comes to legislation and reviewing constitutional bylaws. And congress will still have the power to override judicial rulings by a majority vote.
President Chase Geiser said that he was pleased with the amendment.
“I think it’s a good amendment,” Geiser said. “In the case for a need for interpretation in the future, it will help SGA be more unanimous and allow everyone’s voice to be heard.”
While the amendment has passed the congressional vote, it must still be voted on by the student body before it’s able to officially go into effect.
The vote will take place within the next month, on a yet-to-be-determined day.
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