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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Student Senate confirms new Judicial Court associate justices

Texas A&Ms Student Government Association held an open forum on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. to discuss the MGT Consulting report. 
Photo by Photo by Will Nye

Texas A&M’s Student Government Association held an open forum on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 5 p.m. to discuss the MGT Consulting report. 

In its first meeting of the spring semester, the 74th Session of the Texas A&M Student Senate met, confirming three associate justices to the Judicial Court, the judicial branch of the Student Government Association. However, these confirmations did not come without their share of difficulties.

The Judicial Court is made up of nine justices, with one chief justice. Following last semester, three vacancies needed to be filled. Four candidates for these spots were brought before the Senate body at the meeting, having already been interviewed by Student Body President Natalie Parks, Chief Justice Karissa McIntsosh and the Senate’s special committee, who were tasked with vetting candidates.

Even before the start of the meeting, there were issues concerning the Student Senate quorum, the number of senators present for a vote to be taken, which is half of the current body, or 34 members. Due to COVID-19 and other prior engagements, quorum was barely met, but the meeting was allowed to proceed.

After hearing the presentation from the first candidate, Speaker of the Senate Iman Ahmed, a public health senior, made a motion to end the meeting at this point, citing that, even though quorum was met, there were not enough senators present to give these candidates their due attention.

“I solely believe that we are not doing justice to those justices that have come out today, and they’re not getting that full justice that they deserve, to be considered by the whole Senate body,” Ahmed said.

However, this motion failed with 11 for and 20 against, falling far short of the two-thirds majority needed to pass such a motion. After the failed motion, the meeting went back on its planned schedule, moving back to voting on confirming justices.

The second justice candidate to make his case was political science junior Caleb Mosty. Senators on the special committee, praised Mosty for his explanation of how he would be able to keep bias out of his rulings. Mosty said he is a textualist and views restraint as imperative.

“Because the judicial branch is an independent body, in order to maintain a body independent of societal and policy influence, it is necessary for the judicial branch to have a philosophy of judicial restraint, clearly following the powers given to it and not exceeding that power,” Mosty said.

After a lengthy question-and-answer session with the candidate and some senators expressing concern that he may be too partisan, Mosty was confirmed by a vote of 29 for and two against.

The next candidate was history junior Catherine Meisenheimer. Some senators, including Chair of the Legislative Relations Committee Jessica Williams were worried Meisenheimer seemed apprehensive and quiet in her interview. However, Meisenheimer assuaged these worries and came out of her shell to give a unique presentation.

Meisenheimer explained her judicial philosophy, stressing the equality of the judicial branch in the Student Government Association, but its unique quality of non-partisanship. She also stressed the importance of the judiciary in being rooted in history and precedent.

“Partaking in historical inquiry can provide us with a means of comprehending the unique and even universal challenges that we are confronted with today,” Meisenheimer said.

After her presentation, Meisenheimer was confirmed with a unanimous vote.

The final candidate was freshman Sawyer Bagley, who, despite being an engineering student, hopes to pursue a career in constitutional law. Bagley described his judicial philosophy as consisting of texturalist, structuralism, historical meaning and judicial precedent.

Some senators were concerned Bagley did not fully address how he would deal with personal bias as a justice. Bagley argued against this, saying that, if he is unable to rid himself of bias, relying on eight other justices would rid the court of bias.

“While I cannot or will not guarantee that I will have no bias, I can assure you that it is in my personal convictions that one ought not let bias determine one’s decisions,” Bagley said.

Following this, Bagley was confirmed as an associate justice by a vote of 26 for and five against.

With this section of the meeting done, the Senate had planned to hold an election for a new chair of the Community Relations Committee. However, agricultural economics junior and senator Nick Hines, a member of the off-campus caucus, asked for a count to ensure quorum, and at this point, only 26 senators remained.

With this, the meeting was adjourned and all unfinished business will be taken up at the next meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

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