A request to prevent the 53rd National Legislature from holding the President Pro-Tempore election on Thursday, January 12 has been filed before the Justice in Chambers, Associate Justice Philip A. Z. Banks of the Supreme Court of Liberia
The request was filed by Cllr. T. Dempster Brown representing a human rights group, the Campaigners for Change and the University of Liberia Student Union, (ULSU).
In their complaint for a petition for a ‘writ of prohibition’ Cllr. Brown argued that “as a human rights group and civil society organizations in Liberia, we have observed that the National Legislature continues to violate Article 47 of the Liberian Constitution.”
According to the request for the stay order, the National Legislature is not mindful of the constitution under which they derive their power; instead they are in the constant habit of having Pro-Tempore election for the replacement of the President Pro-Tempore, in total violation of Article 47 of the 1986 Constitution.
“We have observed that since 2006, the Legislature has had four elections in gross violation of Article 47 of the Liberia Constitution,” the group said.
According to them, Article 47 states, “The Senate shall elect once every six years a President Pro-Tempore who shall preside in the absence of the President of the Senate and such other officers as shall ensure the proper functioning of the Senate.”
The plaintiffs cited only half of Article 47.
The same Article 47 also states that, “The Pro Tempore and other officers so elected may be removed from office for cause by resolution of a two-thirds majority of the members of the Senate.”
It is left with the Justice in Chambers to determine whether the writ of prohibition filed by Cllr. Brown and others has any constitutional basis, before approving or dismissing their request.
The complainants note that Article 66 of the Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power as the final arbiter of constitutional issues in the country.
The Article provides that, “The Supreme Court shall be the final arbiter of constitutional issues and shall exercise the final appellate jurisdiction in all cases… The Legislature shall make no law nor create any exception as would deprive the Supreme Court of any of the powers granted.”