Four out of the five UT Supreme Court justices resigned their positions during a Student Government meeting Tuesday night.
Zachary Stone, Max Mills, Savannah Kumar and Anna Hiran resigned from their positions, leaving Justice Jordan Durrani as the chief justice and sole member of the court. The resignations followed a resolution to impeach now-emeritus Chief Justice Stone. In an email to the SG assembly, Stone wrote a resignation letter saying he is not resigning to avoid embarrassment, but because of the way the election process unfolded. Prior to his resignation, Stone collected the required number of representative signatures to prevent removal from office.
“This election has been a series of witch hunts,” Stone said in his letter. “Instead of seeking political victory, individuals sought to game the system with judicial intervention. We had to use a terrible Election Code to settle disputes for parties which had ulterior motives.”
Stone said he no longer wished to participate in the current culture of SG.
“Given the toxicity overwhelming Student Government, it is no surprise that the witch hunt now targets the Court,” Stone said. “To have [our court rulings] vacated without any consultation makes me regret spending a moment doing that service for the University.”
Tanner Long, Speaker of the Assembly and government senior, said he is saddened to see students lose faith in the SG process.
“I’ve always been an advocate of following the rules, and it was my belief, and the belief of others, that the rules were not followed in this election,” Long said. “It’s unfortunate the justices saw resignation as their only path forward.”
The resignations of the court justices also follow decisions by the Election Supervisory Board (ESB) not to certify executive alliance election results.
Zachary Long, ESB vice chair and human relations sophomore, said the Dean of Students office and the ESB concluded there was a violation of due process stemming from the presence of Supreme Court justices at the ESB hearings.
“Since members of the appellate court — SG Supreme Court — were present at each of the hearings held by the ESB, we believe that a fair appeals hearing could not be held by the SG Supreme Court,” Long said.
Long said as a result, the ESB and the Dean of Students office decided not to certify results of the executive alliance race.
According to Stone, the ESB invited the Supreme Court to attend ESB hearings.
Alex Kappus, deputy advisor to the Dean of Students, said the Supreme Court rulings are not necessarily nullified, but pending.
“All parties involved are having the opportunity to appeal to a neutral hearing officer so that due process can be ensured,” Kappus said. “If they choose to do so, then the process will take place. The hearing officer may rule and confirm the Supreme Court ruling or may issue a new ruling or possibly confirm how the ESB originally ruled. If no one appeals, then all of the original ESB rulings would stand.”
If the new appellate officer rules similarly to the Supreme Court rulings, then results will be certified. The officer will not have any knowledge of how the Supreme Court previously ruled. Long said the appeals process for the three cases can be expected to conclude by week’s end, but is subject to change.
This article has been updated to clarify that Zachary Stone collected enough signatures to prevent removal from office, not enough to not be impeached.