Appeal to the Central Student Judiciary requesting a trial on the illegitimate and unconstitutionally appointed constitutional convention.

I am writing on behalf of myself and other students to the CSJ to appeal to the CSJ to exercise the power vested in you by Article 3, Section D of the MSA Constitution and related sections of the MSA Compiled Code. My right and the right of thousands of other students to run for and be elected as delegates to a proposed MSA constitutional convention have been violated by the MSA.

The Michigan Student Assembly’s Constitution is its highest authority. The Constitution serves as a delegation of power conveyed by the University of Michigan student body to its campus-wide representative body: calling a constitution convention therefore requires the democratic participation and initiative of the student body. Since the constitution serves as a contract between the student body and those it delegates to act in its interest in between constitutional conventions, the right of the campus to nominate delegates utilizing the norms of proportional representation is essential to creating the legitimacy of the constitutional convention itself. The procedure adopted and now being implemented by MSA violates every ordinary norm of democratic procedure and is in violation of several articles and sections of the constitution itself. The action of MSA constitute so serious a breach of student rights that it is essential for the CSJ to expedite its procedures and conduct and trial to prevent the gross trampling of students democratic rights that is currently being carried out.

Preliminary and partial listing of MSA constitutional provisions that have been violated by the MSA:

Article 8, Section C establishes that a constitutional convention called for the purpose of amending the constitution can only conducted by “a duly called and elected constitutional convention.” The members of the proposed constitutional convention being convened on Monday, 11.2.09 were not elected. They were handpicked by the MSA President in a purely personal, arbitrary and wholly undemocratic manner. The selection process (see attachment) was designed to create a body that is smaller in size than the current MSA, ignored proportional representation, and lent itself to being politically gerrymandered by the MSA President. Even elected MSA representatives, such as myself, are being excluded from participating as delegates to the convention. Nothing about this selection procedure can be vaguely passed off as an election. For this reason alone, the constitutional convention should be discontinued and any decisions already made by the unelected body should be deemed illegitimate.

A constitutional convention, by definition, is a student government body when it is in session. Article 1, Section C of the MSA Constitution requires that every student government be elected “so as to ensure that its constituents are given ample opportunity to cast their ballots, that the election is free from fraud and that open campaigning can take place.” The selection process that MSA used to create the constitutional convention met none of these mandates.
Article 3 delimits the power of the MSA President to:

1. presiding over meetings of the Assembly with the power to vote
2. having the right to call special meetings of the Assembly of the Steering Committee
3. collecting and disseminating information to the Assembly regarding the activities of the University, and coordinating MSA activities

The President has no authority to substitute his prerogative for the democratic rights of the student body. His vote carries no greater weight than the vote of any other assembly member. The principle of ‘one man, one vote’ does not mean that a single man, in this case the MSA President, gets to cast a single vote to determine the delegates of a constitutional convention.

Other related articles

The constitution and code make clear in numerous places that broad popular demonstrable support in necessary to initiate any process to amend the constitution. Petitions signed by 1000 students are required before a constitutional amendment can come before the assembly. The assembly itself, the broadest and most representative elected body, must vote by 2/3 to amend the constitution. These procedures exist to prevent the usurpation of power of the student body by any small politically motivated faction. This fundamental safeguard of and for democracy is being violated specifically to limit minority rights and to prevent transparency and accountability. No decisions made through such a process should ever be placed before the student body for a vote. To do so would compromise the legitimacy of the constitution itself and the right of the student body as a whole to only have placed before it amendments for consideration that have some demonstrable popular basis of support.