The “fate” of the Texas Tech Student Government Association will fall to the judicial branch of student government tonight, March 7, at 8 p.m. in the Hunt Courtroom in the Texas Tech School of Law. The student Supreme Court will be hearing Cotton v. Stovall (2013) then, the appellate case in the past week’s election dispute.
The election commission’s original opinion, which can be found here, disqualified Luke Cotton, Jill Berger, and Logan Dickenson from the election held Feb. 27-28. The executive trio was found guilty of spamming e-mail messages to residents of the University Fountains apartment complex, and Logan Dickenson was barred from participating in elections again for asking for students’ eRaider information to vote on their behalf. The opinion also dictated that another election would be held in the next couple of weeks.
However, after this opinion was handed down, Cotton filed an appeal with the Supreme Court per Election Code procedures. Chief Justice Ralston Rollo granted certiori to the case, and oral arguments are to begin tonight. The appellate case will not be accepting new evidence into consideration — only that which was presented at the election commission is to be considered, said Sean Buckley, Cotton’s spokesman.
Buckley prepared a statement for The Hub, which can be found in its entirety on the next page. An excerpt reads:
It is my opinion that the sanctions imposed on Cotton and Berger are unduly harsh for the sole violation they were found to have violated and the harm done, if any, was negligible given the polling numbers Bridge the Gap pulled in at the polls. Further, the Election Commission may have violated rights guaranteed by the Student Government Association Constitution.
Buckley stated the trial is expected to be mostly procedural, revolving around the powers and limitations of the Election Commission and the Supreme Court granted by the governing documents of the Student Government Association.
John Pace, one of two representatives for Forrest Stovall, the defendant in the appeal, submitted a statement. The entire statement was as follows:
Bridge the Gap is prepared to present its case tomorrow night in front of the Student Supreme Court recommending that the ruling by the Election Commission be affirmed regarding the disqualifications of candidates Luke Cotton and Jill Berger in last week’s SGA Executive Elections.
The Election Commission demonstrated its commitment to honesty and integrity in the student representative campaigning process by punishing Raiders United’s violations of the SGA Election Code. Bridge the Gap is confident that the Student Supreme Court will similarly support the ideas of honesty and integrity and recognize that candidates Cotton and Berger should not be allowed to tarnish the legitimacy of our Student Government through their actions.
Pace asserted that he would not answer substantive questions about his and his client’s arguments, but repeated that the topics discussed in the court hearing would be consistent with the commission hearing.
In addition to ordering the hearing, the Supreme Court has issued an injunction and restraining order on the Student Government Association elections ordered by the Election Commission. If the Supreme Court overturns the commission’s opinion, there may not need to be a second election at all, or only one office will be ran for. The Election Code mandates that an office may not be filled without a majority vote, and since no other candidates received majority votes, a second election would be necessary if all three offices are not filled by judicial review of the advisory opinion.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Election Commission’s decision as-is, the moratorium on campaigning is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, March 10. It is unclear at this time when the opinion of the Supreme Court can be expected.
To read Sean Buckley’s entire statement on behalf of Luke Cotton, see the next page link below.
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