Solomon, Canvassing Committee Vindicated by Student Court Decision
On Thursday December 27, the Yeshiva University Student Court heard the case of Mr. Tzvi Solomon, Chairman of the Canvassing Committee, regarding the proper and constitutional date for the upcoming YSU Vice Presidential elections.
Mr. Solomon had originally decided to postpone elections until after winter recess without the consent of the court, even while it appeared to be in violation of a straightforward reading of the constitution. After a Commentator investigation, Solomon brought the case to the student court to decide on the proper interpretation of the constitution in this situation.
After Thursday’s deliberation, the court ruled that the elections may indeed be held after the winter recess, thus vindicating Solomon’s initial decision.
The court did, however, note that its conclusion does not support postponement of the elections based on Solomon’s argument that it would be “more practical and efficient” after the break, but rather due to a novel interpretation of the two-weeks clause in the constitution.
The two-weeks clause, found in Article II Section 3 Clause (3) of the student constitution, reads as follows: “If the Student Union Vice President is permanently unable to perform his duties or is removed from office before March 1, an election for a new Student Union Vice President shall be held within two weeks.”
Chief Justice Aaron Kor’s Opinion delineated the two possible interpretations of the contested clause:
“The first is that it means within two weeks of the vice president's resignation. The second is that it means within two weeks of the electoral process's initiation. This is the essential point at issue in this case. According to the first reading, the YSU vice presidential election must be held before winter intersession as there would be two weeks left in the semester since the former vice president's resignation on December 22nd. According to the second reading, there would not be two weeks left in the semester since Mr. Solomon's initiation of the electoral process, in which case the election would need to be held after winter intersession.”
Kor then went on to explain the court’s reasoning in deciding as it did. “The Court today has decided to adopt the second of these two readings, which would allow Mr. Solomon to go through with the process of holding the YSU vice presidential election after winter intersession,” he stated.
“Though the first reading is the more straightforward one, the second is just as valid, and we have accepted it…mainly because he [Mr. Solomon] has already begun the electoral process. It would not sit well with the Court to adopt one possible interpretation of the Constitution over another that would effectively disrupt a process that has already commenced.”
In concluding his opinion, the Chief Justice compared his court’s methodology to that of the U.S. Supreme Court. “Parenthetically, our interpretive method employed here is not dissimilar to a precedent of the Unites States Supreme Court, which will interpret seemingly unconstitutional legislation as constitutional in order to preserve them,” he said.
He backed up this claim by citing Justice Holmes’s statement, "The rule is settled that as between two possible interpretations of a statute, by one of which it would be unconstitutional and by the other valid, our plain duty is to adopt that which will save the Act.”
Jack Sztrigler, the justice who authored the court’s dissenting opinion, disagreed with this methodology. “If the Court will start to come up with its own arguments as to why it should or should not make a ruling, then it is taking control of the legislative process, throwing away our Constitution and rendering court cases and arguments brought to it as irrelevant,” he said.
“It is not the Court's job to come up with new reasons beyond those explicit in the Constitution. Its purpose is to listen to arguments and base its decisions on the words of the Constitution.”
Mr. Solomon, on the other hand, was glad to hear the results of the case. “The constitution is vague in regards to this matter and I felt that it was important for the student court to hear the case,” he said.
“I am thrilled with the student court's decision to rule in my favor and I consider it a victory for the student body.”