The president of the Senate, Jose Luis Dalmau Santiago, sued the governor Pedro Pierluisi for, supposedly, violating the separation of powers clause due to her “refusal” to submit new appointments to the presidency of the State Election Commission (CEE) and for claiming that the judge Jessika Padilla Rivera remains “indefinitely” before the agency in violation of the Constitution of Puerto Rico.
“Today (Sunday), the Senate of Puerto Rico begins legal proceedings against Governor Pedro Pierluisi to assert our constitutional prerogatives. The governor, once again, intends to usurp constitutional powers reserved for legislative bodies, by refusing to submit proprietary appointments, with the clear attempt to retain indefinite interim terms in clear violation of the Constitution and the decisions of the Supreme Court itself.“said the senatorial leader in written statements.
According to Dalmau Santiago, the chief executive is trying to incorrectly apply a decision of the Supreme Court in which the highest judicial forum determined that an official can remain in the position he holds until a replacement is found.
The senator, however, differs from this interpretation by maintaining that, in this case, it is a vacancy that must be filled in accordance with the constitutional order.
“The alternate president of the EEC cannot hold the position of president indefinitely, because it is not an interim term resulting from the expiration of an established term or a temporary replacement.. This is a vacancy resulting from a voluntary resignation that must be filled as provided in the Electoral Code,” said Dalmau Santiago.
On August 29, the governor nominated judge Jorge Rafael Rivera Ruedabut, after it was publicly revealed that the appointee did not have the necessary votes for confirmation, he withdrew the name and proposed the judge to the position. Cyndia Enid Irizarry Cassian, who was defeated by the House of Representatives.
Under the current electoral law, and if there is no consensus among the electoral commissioners, the confirmation of a president or alternate president of the EEC requires the favor of two-thirds of the members of both legislative bodies.
“I am not inclined to make more appointments for something like what happened yesterday (August 29) to occur.” What I want is for the commission to do its job and, I repeat, the current president is exercising that function because it corresponds to her as alternate president,” the first executive then declared after the Chamber’s rejection of Irizarry Casiano’s nomination.
As part of the legal appeal submitted to the Court of First Instance, upper court of San Juan, the Senate requested that the governor be ordered to comply with his constitutional obligation and to designate a candidate to preside over the EEC. Judge Padilla – who is also a party to the lawsuit – is asked “refrain from occupying on an interim basis a position to which they have not been nominated or confirmed”. Likewise, it demands that the presidency of the EEC be declared vacant.
Likewise, the Senate requested, in the lawsuit, that a preliminary interdict hearing be scheduled so that the defendant parties appear to show cause why the requested remedies should not be granted and that, after this hearing, the interdict order be issued. preliminary, ordering Padilla Rivera to refrain from continuing to exercise the powers of the office.
“If the governor wants Judge Padilla to occupy the position of president of the EEC, he must submit her appointment to the legislative branch in accordance with the law. That is her duty and her obligation. For her part, Judge Jessika Padilla Rivera should not lend herself to a clear attempt to circumvent our legal system and should require the chief executive to comply with the law,” said the president of the Senate.