Sat. Feb 29th, 2020

Acting CJ decline giving oath to Aimeliik legislature officers citing dispute

Supreme Court

Acting Chief Justice John K. Rechucher declined to appoint a judge to give oath of office to the 12th Aimeliik Legislature officers citing dispute raised by the minority members.

In a letter addressed to Aimeliik State former governor Obak and to Legislator Jefferson Eriich, Acting CJ states that he cannot assign a judge to give oath of office to the elected officers because he has received a letter by other members of the legislature contending that the election of the 12th Aimeliik State Legislature’s officers is disputed.

“This court cannot insert itself, based solely on the letters we have received, into a controversy with legal dimensions that requires resolution or adjudication,” stated Acting CJ Rechucher.

The 12th Aimeliik State Legislature was sworn into office in December and adjourned their installation session before they elected their officers. Since then, Temporary Speaker Legislator Kyle Ongesii has not called a session to appoint their permanent officers.

Sixteen days after the swearing in, and with Temporary Speaker failing to call a session, majority of Legislators in accordance with Aimeliik Constitution called a session to organize themselves. Aimeliik Constitution states that “A majority of the members of the Aimeliik State Legislature shall constitute a quorum to transact business.”  In that session, they elected their officers.  Legislator Jefferson Eriich was appointed Speaker, Legislator Alvin Samsel became Vice Speaker and Legislator Jason Timulch became the Floor Leader. Following their session, they wrote requesting Acting CJ Rechucher to appoint a judge to administer the oaths of office to their officers.

On December 30th the minority members wrote Acting CJ Rechucher stating that only the Speaker or Governor can call a session and therefore only Temporary Speaker Kyle Ongesii can call the session.  Minority members, Legislators Kyle Ongesii, Wridan Ngiralmau, Leilani Senior and Larry Mamis said that since Temporary Speaker Ongesii did not call session, the session held by majority was not valid.

With Temporary Speaker Kyle Ongesii refusing to call a session to elect officers and court not willing to administer oaths of office, 12th Aimeliik State Legislature becomes lame-duck legislature unable to fulfill its mandate.  And while legislators are not doing anything, they are still receiving their bi-weekly salary of over $300 per person. (L.N. Reklai)