Senate Foreign Affairs Chairman, H. Dan Morais, has written the Senate Plenary – the highest decision making body of the Upper House – to suspend the Code of Conduct (CoC), “because of the recent ruling from the Supreme Court, which he said has rendered the law irrelevant.”
The debate on the Senator’s letter will begin when it is placed on session’s agenda after the two weeks’ break ends in early August.
Sen. Morais is the second person in ascension to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the senior Senator of Maryland County.
He told newsmen on Capitol Hill in Monrovia yesterday that the judgment and attitude of the Supreme Court have undermined the role of the CoC.
He argued that a law is a law when it is only approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives, attested by the President and printed into a handbill; but it is not when the Supreme Court voted or acted upon it.
In a frustrated tone, Morais said the CoC was meant to stop “unprepared people” from coming into the legislature with the word, “desire” creating a level playing field for all Liberians; and stop “the unscrupulous ones” from using the taxpayers’ money to win elections.
According to him, already, the Supreme Court’s ruling has muted the intent of the law.
“It is usual saying that silence means consent, for which some of us will not sit quietly, but to ensure that the cloth that blind justice wore is removed,” Sen. Morais said.
Accordingly, a law can be suspended if 2/3 members of the Senate and House of Representatives signed a petition and it is approved by the President. If the President fails to approve it, the legislature has the right to override the President’s decision.
Meanwhile, Sen. Morais has threatened to take authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to court should they use “fines” to open the floodgates to include questionable names on the final listing of the October 10 presidential and legislative elections.
Some members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, it may be recalled, threatened to impeach the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court for “their bias or inability to perform the functions of their offices; for clearing the nominations of Harrison Karnwea and Jeremiah Sulunteh, vice standard bearers for the oppositions of the Liberty Party and the Alternative National Congress respectively, to contest the October elections.
Article 71 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia gives the legislature the authority to remove the Chief Justice and Associates Justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of subordinate courts of record, because of bad behavior. The Constitution states that they may be removed by impeachment and conviction by the legislature based on proven misconduct, gross breach of duty, inability to perform the functions of their office, or conviction in a court of law for treason, bribery or other infamous crimes.
Recently, during a Senate special session, Sen. Morais walked out of the session when his colleagues refused to include his recommendation on the agenda to discuss the Judicial Review of the Supreme Court’s Opinion.
Morais argued that the discussion is far more important, “because the Supreme Court’s ruling is not only dangerous, but has the propensity to undermine the peace and stability of the country.”
About eight senators out of the 16 voted against placing Morais’ recommendation on the agenda, arguing that last Friday’s special session was intended to concur with the House of Representatives on the 2017/2018 National Budget and not to discuss the judicial review of the Supreme Court’s opinions on Karnwea and Sulunteh.