On Wednesday night, the Undergraduate Student Government’s General Assembly pushed through an unconstitutional judicial nomination.
In a contested victory, Sean Honesty, a fourth-year in political science and judicial nominee, won the position of USG justice despite his appointment being in violation of the USG constitution, according to Resolution 52-R-7, which disputed the constitutionality of Honesty’s appointment due to the fact that he served on a USG campaign for the 2017 election.
During his first year at Ohio State, before Honesty applied for any judicial positions in USG, he worked on a USG campaign for 2017 candidates Stephen Post and Lauren Todd. Honesty said that during the campaign, he helped decide what policies should be promoted to the student body.
The campaign under which he served lost the 2017 election and the candidates have since graduated.
“I completely understand,” Honesty said of the GA’s concerns. “On one hand you want to keep the integrity of USG, the constitution and the founding documents. At the same time you want to make sure that our judicial branch is doing its job well.”
Parliamentarian Caleb Hineman and Senator Ose Arheghan led the opposition against the appointment.
“How we’ve interpreted the constitution … has not always been accurate or equitable or to the service of the students,” Arheghan said. “I don’t think this should pass.”
In 2017, Honesty was appointed as a judicial clerk by then-vice president Sophie Chang. Since then, neither his work ethic nor integrity have come into question, Chief Justice Namrata Pujara said.
Though Pujara said Honesty has been an exceptional clerk and has every qualification to be on the judicial panel, the founding document of USG contains wording that was up for debate at GA.
Article IV Section D1 Subsection i of USG’s constitution states, “Candidates who have previously been affiliated with Undergraduate Student Government elections shall not be considered to serve on the Judicial Panel.”
However, both Pujara and USG Vice President Julia Dennen argue the clarity of Article IV is muddled in Article V Section F Subsection 1, which states, “Members of the Judicial Panel and their clerks may not be candidates in an Undergraduate Student Government general election.”
“He was never a candidate,” Pujara said. “I’d like to point to [Article V,] where it specifies affiliation with a general election.”
Both Honesty and Pujara said Honesty was never a candidate in a USG election, but he was affiliated with a campaign, so a constitutional gray area emerged.
The resolution passed with a two-thirds majority and Honesty won the appointment.