‘Complete constitutional bastardizing’
–Ex-Chief Justice Scott terms legislative joint statement
By Lincoln G. Peters
Former Liberian Chief Justice Cllr. Gloria Musu Scott says a recent joint resolution passed by the Legislature is in a way bastardizing the Constitution.
“The joint resolution by the Legislature is in a way of bastardizing the Constitution of Liberia,” she said on a night-time radio talk show Friday, 12 November 2022.
Lawmakers over the weekend passed a joint resolution 003/2022, authorizing the Executive Branch to extend the conduct of the National Housing and Population Census from 7 November 2022 up to 15 January 2023.
The plenary of both houses decided to allow the appropriate authority to ensure adequate preparation for the conduct of the census.
Through the joint resolution, the lawmakers appropriated an additional amount of US$200,000 to the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) to address the current challenges it faces.
But Cllr. Scott said this should not be encouraged because it’s a constitutional non-compliance and violation.
The constitutional lawyer described the action of the Legislature as a bad precedent being set that undermines the function of the Constitution.
She said the way the census is proceeding, the possibility is that the National Elections Commission (NEC) might not use the data from the census.
She also thinks that the elections might not be held on the second Monday in October because of the delay of the census and the breach of the constitutional mandate.
Cllr. Scott accused the Legislature of not exercising its constitutional oversight responsibility because lawmakers have accepted … to always come out with resolutions that are not good for Liberia.
“What the Legislature has done is a bad precedent that has been set,” she noted.
But responding to the joint resolution, Cllr. Scott said the lawmakers have set a bad precedent.
She contended that the Constitution lays down a timetable and mandates for the conduct of the census.
“The Constitution provides that after ten years a census should be conducted. For ten years, we knew … that this time will come, a constitutional duty for [the] census would need to be implemented. But we have not planned for it,” said Cllr. Scott.
She said the resolution from the Legislature is a constitutional violation, and that the government should make sure that there is check and balance.
She stressed that the census is important because it is used for planning, political and constitutional purposes.
She added that it is used to determine constituents for the next election thresholds to find electoral districts.
With the delay in the conduct of the census, Cllr. Scott wondered when will the NEC use the information that will be gathered to demarcate electoral districts.
“I am looking down the road, it seems like we might not use the census 2023, or we might not have the election on the second Monday of October as provided by the constitution because of all this,’’ she concluded.
In another development the public and some medias should stop right now affiliating the Chief Justice and her bench’s judicial decision about salaries and wages with executive functionalities. The Chief Justice will not sit to argue Ministerial level responsibilities. The Supreme Court of Liberia has concluded this matter as the President of Liberia’s responsibility as he heads the executive branch until, if next elected in 2023. Remember that the Supreme Court is not elected by popular vote but possess similar respect (in security and military protection) as the other two branches of government. The nation’s Chief Jurisprudence will stay afloat and on equal par with the Chief Execution of the Liberian law as provide by the Constitution. We as a people will not accept a downward arrow of any of our branches of Government, to avoid civil crisis again.
The Minister in charge of national finance, under presidential elective power by populace, has been given his orders and warnings by the highest court. Thus, after reference to presidential leadership, should tell the public why and when or face public sentiments more powerful than law.