SGA Chief Justice resigns amid senate debate
Chief Justice of the SGA Supreme Court, graduate student Brandon McReynolds, has resigned after five years of service to SGA. His resignation is the result of a recommendation for impeachment from the SGA Development Board, who heard a petition given to the Compliance Officer by an anonymous student.
The official report from the Development Board recommended the removal of Chief Justice McReynolds due to the lack of a constitutionally mandated debate during this year’s election and his illegal membership on the 21st Century University Committee.
“I did it with the best intentions at heart,” said McReynolds, when discussing the lack of the debate. He and others cited the unopposed election as the reason no debate was held, defining debate as a discourse between multiple parties. He felt as though there was little to gain by holding a debate that involved no such discourse.
McReynolds mentioned that failing to hold a debate, under these circumstances, is not a worthy cause for impeachment.
SGA President Carrie Mattingly agreed with this, suggesting that a “town hall forum” would have been the best way to handle complaints related to the lack of a debate.
The Development Board, however, disagreed, and it saw a need to abide directly by the SGA By-Laws.
They also saw a violation of section 6.6.6 of the SGA Constitution, which states that “No justice of the Supreme Court may hold any elected or appointed office in SGA or on a University Wide committee for a period of one year after he or she steps down from the Court.”
McReynolds said that he could not refute these charges, but thought that urging his removal because of them was “creating conflict for the sake of conflict,” and that his impeachment for this reason was uncalled for.
Mattingly mentioned that a more reasonable response to this would have been a call for him to step down from the committee, arguing that it is not unusual for Court members to serve on committees. However, the Development Board again stated that they were simply following the rules as written.
In the Senate discussion leading up to McReynold’s resignation, the main point of contention was the Development Board’s methods in dealing with the complaint towards McReynolds.
“I don’t think it was handled properly,” said Mattingly, citing a lack of quorum on the Board and a failure to wait the one to two week period before planning a senate meeting about the impeachment.
She also stated that this was the first time the Development Board has taken action, despite numerous other violations that could have been addressed and said that the reasoning behind this sudden action was “very personal and political.”
A source on the Development Board stated that any issue with the exact procedure was due to the “highly confusing” nature of the by-laws, and said that procedure was followed to the best of their ability.
Acknowledging that politics was involved in the proceedings, the main concern being that the SGA Judiciary was becoming less independent from the Executive Branch, the source noted that those who wanted to prevent the Senate from holding the impeachment hearings were the winners of this year’s elections.
However, the source stated that there was no personal agenda on the Development Board, despite obvious tension between the opposing sides of the debate.
McReynolds no desire in claiming that this was the result of a personal vendetta against him, stating that SGA should not be reduced to the bipartisan politics familiar in Washington, D.C.
“I didn’t want conflict to become the theme of student government,” said McReynolds when explaining why he resigned rather than continue in the proceedings of impeachment.
Agreeing that it saved the Student Senate a lot of unnecessary distraction from the real issues it faces, A&S President and SGA President-Elect Monali Haldankar said that “he left with a lot of dignity.”
As far as the future of the SGA Supreme Court goes, Mattingly says she is still planning her next move.
Under Section 6.3 of the SGA Constitution, she has the power to submit a nominee for Chief Justice to the Executive Board and the Senate for approval.
McReynolds urged patience, however, in order to find the best qualified candidate for the job.
Mattingly and Haldankar also suggested possible changes to the structure of SGA in order to prevent similar situations from occurring, such as the addition of an Associate Chief Justice to take over in case of the removal of the Chief Justice.
“We have experience now,” said Haldankar, mentioning that future leaders “have a fire under them and want to change SGA.”
The Development Board Source stated that discussion of a new election for next years SGA, allowed under Section 612.1 of the By-Laws, is a “conversation they are going to have to have.”
Additionally, they mentioned that the handling of the election by the entire Supreme Court may be called into question, citing 1.3 percent voter turnout compared to last year’s 12.3 percent.
McReynolds hopes that it will still be about students getting involved.
“I want student government to be an advocacy arm for students,” said McReynolds, urging unity.
“This is really about one voice.”
Check back with the Cardinal for any updates on the appointment of a new Chief Justice, and any future action from the Development Board.