Fifth Constitutional Convention Fifth Constitutional Convention to gather via phone today as it prepares to reconvene
Published: October 22, 2012
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ST. CROIX - The leadership of the Fifth Constitutional Convention said discussions today should set a date for the convention to reconvene, and they expect to have a document ready to forward to Washington, D.C., by the end of the month.
Gerard Luz James, convention president, said Friday that he has been out of the territory taking care of personal matters. Since his return, he has been catching up on the status of the convention and the different matters - legal and otherwise - that have developed during the last few weeks, he said.
About half of the delegates conducted a conference call to determine how they want to proceed, and today, they will have further discussions to establish a set day for when the convention will reconvene.
"We will be operating as the Fifth Constitutional Convention, and everyone is in favor of just working out the nine points the Congress had issues with, so we will move from there," he said
James said the convention intends to contact Senate President Ronald Russell next week to facilitate the use of the Legislative Buildings on each island to be used for the convention sessions, and they also expect to use the Legislative reporters to keep their official record.
"We have a lot to do in a short period of time, but the delegates are committed," he said.
U.S. District Judge Wilma Lewis made a ruling in the civil suit filed by Fifth Constitutional Convention delegates Mary Moorhead and Adelbert Bryan against The 29th Legislature.
In the case filed Sept. 28, the plaintiffs asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, barring the Fifth Revision Constitutional Convention from proceeding to revise, submit new language or any other action relative to the drafting of the proposed constitution.
They also sought a declaratory judgement from the court that Act 7386, creating the Fifth Revision Constitutional Convention, is in violation of federal law and is unconstitutional and requested permanent injunctive relief precluding any action by the Fifth Revision Constitutional Convention.
On Oct. 5, Lewis denied the motion for the restraining order, saying that to obtain one, the plaintiffs had to demonstrate that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their pre-emption claim; they will suffer irreparable harm without an injunction; the harm caused to the non-moving parties does not outweigh the benefits of injunctive relief; and the injunction is in the public interest.
The plaintiffs failed to do so, Lewis ruled.
In denying the restraining order, Lewis said the plaintiffs failed to show that either Public Law 94-584 or Joint Resolution 33 requires the Fifth Constitutional Convention to reconvene for the purpose of revising the proposed constitution or that these laws authorize only the Fifth Constitutional Convention to revise the proposed constitution.
Additionally, the sections of Act No. 7386 establishing and convening the Fifth Revision Constitutional Convention - including the provisions incorporating the "legal team" into the Fifth Revision Constitutional Convention - are consistent with sections 2 and 3 of Public Law 94-584 and therefore are not in conflict with federal law, Lewis said.
"As such, Plaintiffs' claim that Act No. 7386 is pre-empted by federal law fails as a matter of law, and Plaintiffs have therefore failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits," Lewis' order reads. "Because likelihood of success on the merits is a dispositive element, Plaintiffs' 'Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order' must be denied."
In her most recent order, Lewis denied an oral motion for Convention Vice President Lawrence Sewer to intervene in the case on behalf of the convention. Sewer's motion claimed that he is of the same belief as the plaintiffs but has his own council because he does not believe that Bryan acting pro-se on behalf of the plaintiffs could protect Sewer's and the convention's interests in the case.
Lewis allowed Sewer to join the case as an individual but denied a motion for the convention to join, saying that the legislation establishing the convention does not give it the right to sue or be sued.
James said the convention has no budget and would not be involved in any further court actions.
Lewis also ordered the plaintiffs to file a memorandum by Wednesday, demonstrating why they believe that the case should not be dismissed with prejudice.
Once that is done, she said, the defendants will have until Oct. 31 to file a response to the plaintiff's memorandum.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.Officers
President: Gerard Luz James II
Vice President: Lawrence Sewer
Secretary: Mary Moorhead
Treasurer: Mario Francis
Assistant Treasurer: Violet Ann Golden
Chaplain: Wilma Marsh-Monsanto
Arturo Watlington Jr., At-large
Sen. Craig Barshinger, At-large
St. Croix delegates
Evelyn Messer James
Richard Schrader Jr.
St. Thomas- St. John delegates
Stedmann Hodge Jr.