Judicial Council overturns executive order invalidating Daily Cal fee referendum

ASUC President Vishalli Loomba speaks before the ASUC Senate about her decision to issue an executive order to void the Daily Cal fee referendum.
Derek Remsburg/Staff
ASUC President Vishalli Loomba speaks before the ASUC Senate about her decision to issue an executive order to void the Daily Cal fee referendum.

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The ASUC Judicial Council overturned the executive order Tuesday that invalidated the V.O.I.C.E. Initiative on the spring 2012 election ballot.

In its decision, the council said ASUC President Vishalli Loomba’s order — which was issued the morning of the second day of voting — overstepped the president’s authority. The V.O.I.C.E. fee referendum asked students to pay $2 per semester to support The Daily Californian.

“(Loomba) has been unable to show that executive action mitigated any harms that had already occurred or that it prevented further harm compared to less disruptive alternatives,” reads the decision. “As a result, there was no urgency for an Executive Order.”

An April 10 email from Dean of Students Jonathan Poullard to Loomba said the campus whistleblower program had received letters of grievance claiming the initiative violated UC policy. Loomba then began the process that led to her April 11 executive order, which was upheld by the ASUC Senate at its meeting that night.

Lynn Yu, campaign manager for the referendum, along with ASUC Solicitor General Erin Delaney and former Attorney General Kevin Gibson, filed charges with the Judicial Council against the order April 13.

“I’m glad about the executive order being overturned, and I think it is a good step forward for the V.O.I.C.E. campaign,” Yu said. “But at the same time I anticipate that we will have to face more challenges.”

Editor in Chief and President of the Daily Cal Tomer Ovadia said Loomba’s order came as a huge surprise and that it “means a lot to the Daily Cal staff that the executive order was overturned.”

At the hearing for the executive order, Loomba said her immediate action was required to maintain the functioning of the ASUC.

But SQUELCH! Senator and chair of the senate Committee on Constitutional and Procedural Review Noah Ickowitz, who testified at the trial, said the ruling affirmed it was the right of the Judicial Council — rather than the president — to void a component of the election.

“Although an executive order is necessary when extreme circumstances arise, the president misused the (power),” Ickowitz said.

Tuesday’s decision did not rule on the constitutionality of the initiative itself, and there is still the possibility that more charges will be filed against the initiative.

CalSERVE Senator Anthony Galace, who also testified at the trial, said he believes the executive order was within the limits of the constitution but said the legality of the initiative is the core problem.

“Hopefully we can move on with the broader issue of whether or not the V.O.I.C.E Initiative was constitutional,” Galace said.

Senior Andy Nevis — who spoke in favor of the executive order at the April 11 senate meeting — said he believes the council will ultimately conclude that the initiative violates ASUC and UC policy.

“President Loomba’s executive order was a good faith effort to ensure that the legal issues surrounding the VOICE initiative were addressed,” Nevis said in an email. “This incident should be a wakeup call to the Senate to explore revisions of the constitution and bylaws to ensure that future presidents know exactly how far the power of executive order extends.”

Loomba could not immediately be reached for comment.