Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Jurisdictional Issue On The Delegates' Petition Regarding R. Lee Wrights

On Wednesday, May 6, 2009, the Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party voted on the issue of whether the Judicial Committee had "subject matter jurisdiction" over the question raised in the Delegates’ Petition submitted to us by Rachel Hawkridge dated April 30, 2009. That Delegates’ Petition contained the following language:

To: Judicial Committee of the Libertarian Party

I was a Delegate to the Libertarian Party 2008 National Convention. Pursuant to Article 8, Section 5, I find that the attempted removal of R. Lee Wrights, At-Large Member of the Libertarian National Committee, from the National Committee, without a 2/3 vote of the National Committee, contravenes Bylaws Article 8, Section 5. I affirm his position as an At-Large Representative and ask, per Article 8, Section 12, that the Judicial Committee overturn this attempted removal and direct that Wrights be recognized as an At-Large Member of the National Committee.

Name/State Delegation
123. Harry Joe Tabor/Oregon
122. Mykl Kryka/Colorado
121. Daniel Ong/Colorado
120. Claire Gersch/Colorado
119. Garrett Michael Hayes/Georgia
118. signature rejected
117. Thomas E Sullivan/Colorado
116. Roger Gary/Texas
115. signature rejected
114. Steven Boone/People's Democratic Republic of Maryland
113. L. Alan Pyeatt/California
112. Lonnie Holcomb/Idaho
111. line voided
110. line voided
109. Skyla Grimes/Washington
108. Geoffrey Wills/NY
107. Marc Montoni/Virginia
106. JJ McCurry/Florida
105. Michael Jingozian/OR
104. line voided
103. Julia Fox/IL
102. line voided
101. line voided
100. Peter Wilkie/Washington
99. Karen Swindell/Michigan
98. John W Howell/IL
97. Tom Howe/North Carolina
96. Ray Carr/Texas
95. Barbara Howe/North Carolina
94. Michael Kerner/Kansas
93. Mark W.A. Hinkle/California
92. line voided
91. Rachel M Enfield/TN
90. Mike Renzulli/Arizona
89. Elisabeth Larsen/Michigan
88. R C Wes Benedict/TX
87. Mary J. Ruwart/TX
86. Lidia Seebeck/California region 33 Riverside
85. Stephen Stout/Utah
84. Susan Hogarth/North Carolina
83. Scotty Boman/Michigan
82. Henry Haller/Pennsylvania
81. Jason Seagraves/Michigan
80. James Dompkowski/Maine
79. Walter Block/Louisiana
78. Eric Cooper/Iowa
77. Maureen Litten/Iowa
76. Seth Anthony/Colorado
75. Derek Pomery/Maryland
74. Paul Langford/Colorado
73. Mike A. Bozarth/Missouri
72. Donald Silberger/New York
71. Thomas M. Sipos/California
70. Ed Marsh/Tennessee
69. Sam Sloan/New York
68. Audrey Capozzi/LPNY
67. Brian Irving/North Carolina
66. Vicki Kirkland/Florida
65. Karl Dickey/Florida
64. Michael J. Rollins/Rhode Island
63. Christopher S. Thrasher/North Carolina
62. Vincent Marcus/Utah
61. Fred Mangels/CA
60. René A. Ruiz/Massachusetts
59. Arthur Torrey/MA (Delegation Chair)
58. Richard Schwarz/Pennsylvania
57. John Wayne Smith/Florida
56. J.R. Enfield/Tennessee
55. Seth Cohn/NH
54. line voided
53. Deborah A. Bottomlee/TN
52. Carolyn J McMahon/Massachusetts
51. Jeff Duensing/Indiana
50. Chris Edes/New York
49. William P. McMillen/New York
48. Starchild/California
47. Matt D. Harris/West Virginia
46. Jake Porter/Iowa
45. line voided
44. Chuck Moulton/California
43. Mo Kiah/Tennessee Delegate/2008 LP Convention
42. Ron Moore/New York
41. line voided
40. Ray Duensing/NV
39. Beth Duensing/Nevada
38. Dylan McDonnell/Utah
37. Rachel Hawkridge/Washington
36. Jill Stone/CA
35. James Perry Reef/Massachusetts
34. Michael R. Edelstein/CA
33. Thomas Hill/N.C.
32. Glenn Jacobs Tennessee
31. Rob Latham/Utah
30. Tom Ruks/NH
29. Steve LaBianca/Florida
28. Christiana Mayer/Oregon
27. Steve Kubby/CA
26. Michelle Shinghal/TX
25. line voided
24. Raymond James Duensing Jr./Sin City, Nevada
23. Kelly Wall/TN
22. Michael Acree/CA
21. Tony Wall/TN
20. Paul Frankel/Alabama
19. Gene Hawkridge/Washington State
18. Less Antman/California
17. John Schultz/Missouri
16. Larry Nicholas/Washington
15. Debra Payne-Dedmon/Nevada
14. Dodge Landesman/New York
13. Glenn Nielsen/Missouri
12. Christopher Maden/California
11. Harland Harrison/California
10. Angela Keaton/California
9. James Lesczynski/New York
8. Carolyn Marbry/California
7. Richard Winger/California
6. Michael Seebeck/California
5. Brian Miller/Pennsylvania
4. George Phillies/Massachusetts
3. Morey Straus/NH
2. line voided
1. Thomas L. Knapp/Missouri

Act In Liberty,

Rachel Hawkridge
Libertarian Party of Washington
Libertarian National Committee
Region 7 Representative

Ruth E. Bennett, the Chair of the Libertarian Party's Judicial Committee, reported the decision of the Judicial Committee with respect to this petition as follows:

By a vote of six (Bennett, Cobb, Hacker, Nicks, Nolan, Sarwark) to one (Stevens) the Judicial Committee recognizes that we have jurisdiction in the matter of the Delegates’ Petition of April 30, 2009. We are, however, by a vote of five (Bennett, Cobb, Hacker, Nolan, Stevens) to two (Sarwark, Nicks) declining to accept the petition. The relief requested in the Petition is reinstatement of R. Lee Wrights and as Mr. Wrights has been appointed to the National Committee, the appeal is moot.

Respectfully Submitted,
Ruth E. Bennett
Libertarian Party Judicial Committee

Since I was the only member of the Judicial Committee who voted against our having “subject matter jurisdiction” over the issues raised in the Delegates’ Petition, I thought it only proper to explain the reasoning behind my vote.

There does appear to be, in my opinion, an ambiguity with respect to whether the “subject matter jurisdiction” of the Judicial Committee is expanded in Article 8, Section 12 beyond the “expressly identified” matters mentioned as the “subject matter jurisdiction” of the Judicial Committee in Article 9, Section 2, which reads as follows:

2. The subject matter jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee is limited to consideration of only those matters expressly identified as follows:

a. suspension of affiliate parties (Article 6, Section 6),
b. suspension of officers (Article 7, Section 8),
c. suspension of National Committee members-at-large (Article 8, Section 5),
d. voiding of National Committee decisions (Article 8, Section 11),
e. challenges to platform planks (Rule 7, Section 9),
f. challenges to Resolutions (Rule 8, Section 2), and
g. suspension of Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates (Article 12, Section 5).

However, Article 8, Section 12, states in relevant part:

12. Upon appeal by ten percent of the delegates credentialed at the most recent Regular Convention or one percent of the Party’s sustaining members, the Judicial Committee shall consider the question of whether or not a decision of the National Committee contravenes specified sections of the Bylaws. If the decision is vetoed by the Judicial Committee, it shall be declared null and void.”

The issue is whether Article 8, Section 12 grants “subject matter jurisdiction” to the Judicial Committee beyond those matters expressly identified in Article 9, Section 2 to include additional “subject matter jurisdiction” over “whether or not a decision of the National Committee contravenes specified sections of the Bylaws”. The ambiguity is in reference to the words "specified sections of the Bylaws". The question this raises is "specified" where - in the Delegates' Petition or in other sections of the Bylaws? I think the answer is unclear and that a better reading of this section would conclude it means as specified in the Delegate's Petition since it is the delegates who are challenging a particular decision of the National Committee. It is my position that if the Delegates’ Petition had veritable signatures from the proper number of credentialed delegates and challenged “a decision of the National Committee”, I would have voted that the Judicial Committee had jurisdiction over the issue.

In the current instance, however, the Delegates’ Petition does not reference “a decision of the National Committee” under Article 8, Section 12, nor does it reference “a suspension of National Committee members-at-large” under Article 9, Section 2, Subsection c. As a result, there is nothing referenced in the Delegates’ Petition I feel is appealable to the Judicial Committee under the provisions of the Libertarian Party Bylaws. The National Committee did not by a 2/3 vote of the entire LNC suspend R. Lee Wrights "for cause" and did not send him a notice of suspension. Had he been suspended "for cause" by a 2/3 vote of the entire LNC, that action would be within the subject matter jurisdiction of the Judicial Committee. Had the Delegates’ Petition referenced any “decision of the National Committee”, I would have voted to accept jurisdiction but it did not. Therefore, it was clear to me that the Judicial Committee had no jurisdiction over the issues raised in the Delegates’ Petition.

At first glance, you might think the Delegates’ Petition does give the Judicial Committee subject matter jurisdiction because the appeal language specifically mentions Article 8, Section 5. Every member of the Judicial Committee voted in favor of the Judicial Committee having jurisdiction over this matter except me. My reasoning is clear to me but obviously wasn't persuasive enough to convince the other Judicial Committee members. To me, for the Judicial Committee to have subject matter jurisdiction, there had to be an Article 8, Section 5 "suspension" "for cause" by a 2/3 vote of the entire LNC or a “decision of the National Committee” that the credentialed delegates claimed “contravenes specified sections of the Bylaws”. Since there was no such "suspension" under Article 8, Section 5 and no “decision of the National Committee”, I did not believe the Judicial Committee had jurisdiction over the matter raised in the Delegates’ Petition. Bennett, Hacker, Sarwark, Cobb, Nolan and Nicks obviously thought otherwise.

In Liberty,

Dr. Tom Stevens
Judicial Committee Member
Libertarian Party

No comments:

Post a Comment