Judicial branch changes would increase number of justices

Katherine Martin

The proposed SGA constitution defines the selection and jurisdiction of the Judicial Board in a way that the current constitution has failed to adequately address, SGA attorney general Ryan Sprinkle said.

For example, Sprinkle said, the current selection committee for selecting Judicial Board justices as outlined in the current constitution has not been used for several years.

“The new selections process more closely resembles the process that the judicial branch has been using successfully,” Sprinkle said.

In this process, he said, applications are blindly reviewed by Judicial Affairs staff and non-returning justices. Then, a selections committee interviews select applicants.

Aisha Mahmood, SGA associate justice and a member of the Constitutional Reform Committee, said this process is more straightforward and fair than outlined in the current document.

The proposed document also makes a clear pronouncement of the Judicial Board’s powers, Sprinkle said.

“The University administration ‘delegates’ certain judicial powers and the Judicial Board is ‘vested’ certain powers by the proposed constitution,” he said. “This distinction clears the uncertainty from past years.

The Judicial Board will also have the authority to hear cases and appeals that pertain to SGA rules and regulations including the Code of Laws and the Student Elections Board Elections Manual, Sprinkle said.

Another proposed change would increase the number of justices from 18 to around 25, SGA Chief Justice Hayley Strong said.

This increase will be contingent on the number of students at the University, with one justice for every 1,200 students, Strong said. The number of clerks will also increase with one clerk for every 6,000 students.

Increasing numbers will help with the current workload of cases the Judicial Board hears and provide greater services to the student body, Strong said.

Mahmood said she is pleased and optimistic about the changes that were made within the judicial branch.

“As a committee, I felt like we were all in sync when it came to making alterations and improving the way the branch is selected and interacts with the other two branches,” Mahmood said.

These changes will help create a better sense of transparency and accountability within the judicial branch and help the Judicial Board operate in the most efficient, effective and fair way as possible, Mahmood said.

“The proposed constitution maintains three distinct and uniquely powerful branches of government and strengthens the opportunities that students have to engage in their SGA,” Strong said.

For more information on the proposed SGA constitution, go to sga.ua.edu.