Academic Catalog

Article V: The Judicial Branch

Sec. 5.1 VESTMENT OF JUDICIAL POWER. All judicial powers and authority shall be vested in the Supreme Court of Student Government.

Sec. 5.2 COMPOSITION OF THE JUDICIAL BRANCH. The judicial branch shall be comprised of the Supreme Court an additional inferior entities as may be deemed necessary and expedient by the Assembly and Supreme Court.

Sec. 5.3 COMPOSITION OF THE SUPREME COURT. The Supreme Court shall consist of five (5) justices.

Sec. 5.4 ELECTION OF CHIEF JUSTICE. The Supreme Court shall elect a Chief Justice from among its members by the end of the spring semester of each year. If the office of Chief Justice becomes vacant, the Court shall immediately elect a new Chief Justice from among its members.

Sec. 5.5 PROHIBITION ON CONCURRENT SERVICE OUTSIDE OF THE JUDICIAL BRANCH. Justices shall not hold any concurrent position within the executive or legislative branches of Student Government.

Sec. 5.6 MINIMUM NUMBER OF HOURS IN-RESIDENCE ELIGIBILITY FOR JUSTICES. Justices must have completed at least twelve (12) semester hours in-residence at the University if an undergraduate or nine (9) hours in-residence if a graduate student.

Sec. 5.7 GOOD STANDING REQUIRED TO SERVE ON SUPREME COURT. Justices must not be on scholastic or disciplinary probation at the time of appointment or while serving.

Sec. 5.8 LIMIT ON NUMBER OF LAW STUDENTS SERVING AS JUSTICES. No more than three (3) justices shall be students enrolled in the School of Law.

Sec. 5.9 ACADEMIC LIFETIME APPOINTMENT. Justices shall serve until they resign, become ineligible to serve, or are removed for delinquency to fulfill the duties of office.

Sec. 5.10 NOMINATION OF NEW JUSTICES WHEN FEWER THAN THREE ARE SERVING. If the Supreme Court consists of fewer than three (3) sitting justices, new justices shall be nominated by the President subject to approval by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly.

Sec. 5.11 TIMETABLE FOR PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION OF JUSTICES. The President shall act within four (4) weeks to bring before the Assembly one or more nominees to fill the vacant positions. If an insufficient number of nominees are confirmed by the Assembly to bring the membership of the court to three (3) or more justices, the President shall bring forward one or more subsequent nominees within four (4) weeks of the Assembly’s vote.

Sec. 5.12 NOMINATION OF NEW JUSTICES WHEN MORE THAN THREE ARE SERVING. If the Supreme Court consists of three (3) or more sitting justices, new justices shall be nominated by the sitting justices of the Court and subject to confirmation by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly.

Sec. 5.13 PRESIDENTIAL REJECTION OF JUDICIAL NOMINATION. If confirmed, the Student Body President may reject the nominee. The President’s decision to reject a nominee may be overridden by a three-quarters (3/4) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly.

Sec. 5.14 ANTICIPATED VACANCIES ON THE SUPREME COURT. If a vacancy on the Court is anticipated, the Supreme Court may initiate nomination and confirmation proceedings up to six (6) months in advance of the anticipated vacancy. A nominee confirmed in this way shall not begin serving as a justice until a vacancy in the Court arises.

Sec. 5.15 CLERKS. The Supreme Court shall have the power to select and appoint non-voting clerks to aid the Court. Clerks of the Court shall not be a justice nor a member (other than ex- officio) of the executive or legislative branches of Student Government.

Sec. 5.16 DUTIES, POWERS, AND AUTHORITY OF THE SUPREME COURT. The Student Government Supreme Court shall possess the following duties, powers, and authority:

  1. No formal action may be taken by the Court without a quorum present which shall consist of at least three (3) sitting justices.
  2. The Supreme Court shall have sole original and supreme jurisdiction in all cases arising under this Constitution, the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures and substantive rules, regulations, or bylaws approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly; as well as any matter concerning controlling authority upon the acts of Student Government.
  3. The court shall hear all cases in which any student, faculty member, staff member, administrator, or student organization at The University of Texas at Austin brings an actionable complaint where there is sufficient good cause to believe there has been a material violation of this Constitution, the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures, or substantive rules, controlling authorities, regulations or bylaws approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly.
  4. Any determination of standing to bring a case before the Court shall require no more than a minimal threshold designed to prevent frivolous complaints.
  5. Upon a finding that there has been a material violation of this Constitution the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures, or substantive rules, controlling authorities, regulations or bylaws approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly, Supreme Court shall have the power, to issue appropriate rulings in all matters properly brought before it.
  6. The Supreme Court shall certify the validity of signatures of all petitions filed with Student Government for referendum, initiative, or constitutional initiative in a timely manner.
  7. The wording of a referendum, initiative, or constitutional initiative submitted by petition may be amended only if approved by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court shall not approve the amending of a ballot item if requested less than three (3) weeks in advance of the scheduled election and if the proposed amendment changes the effect or substance of the original petition submitted, or if the amendment significantly alters the original petition in any other way.
  8. Upon a finding that there has been a material violation of this Constitution or the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures, or substantive rules, controlling authorities, regulations or bylaws approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly, Supreme Court shall have the power to issue appropriate writs (including writs of injunction and writs of mandamus) as necessary.
  9. The Supreme Court shall have the power to declare null and void any act of Student Government that materially violates this Constitution or the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures, or substantive rules, controlling authorities, regulations or bylaws approved by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of total sitting representatives in the Assembly.

Sec. 5.17 PERSUASIVE VALUE OF SUPREME COURT OPINIONS. Published Opinions and rulings of the Supreme Court shall have persuasive, but not controlling, precedential value in subsequent proceedings of the Supreme Court.

Sec. 5.18 PRECEDENTIAL VALUE OF SUPREME COURT OPINIONS. Published Opinions and rulings of the Supreme Court shall have binding precedential value over subsequent proceedings of the Election Supervisory Board.

Sec. 5.19 ESTABLISHMENT OF SUPREME COURT RULES AND REGULATIONS. The Supreme Court shall establish its own rules of procedure to be included in the Student Government Code of Rules and Procedures.

Sec. 5.20 SUPREME COURT JOURNAL AND OPINIONS. The Supreme Court shall maintain an official journal of its proceedings, and shall issue written opinions in all cases brought before it. The Court shall make all opinions it has rendered publicly available. A Court opinion shall be made publicly available within one (1) week of the Court’s decision in each case.

Sec. 5.21 ADHERENCE TO CAMPUS-WIDE ELECTION CODE  AND  RESERVATION  OF AUTHORITY FOR STUDENT GOVERNMENT-SPECIFIC ELECTION CODE. Student Government shall approve and adhere to the provisions of the campus-wide election code, as annually published by the Office of the Dean of Students, in so far as much as it does not contravene the standing provisions of the Student Government-specific campus-wide election code.

Sec. 5.22 PROHIBITION ON IMPLEMENTING RULES WITHIN EIGHT WEEKS. No election rules may be enacted within eight (8) weeks prior to an election.

Sec. 5.23 ORIGINAL JURISDICTION OF ELECTION SUPERVISORY BOARD. Election disputes and grievances shall first be heard by the Election Supervisory Board Organized by the Office of the Dean of Students.

Sec. 5.24 SOLE APPELLATE AND SUPREME ELECTION JURISDICTION. The Student Government Supreme Court shall possess sole appellate and supreme jurisdiction in all Student Government election disputes.

Sec. 5.25 APPEALS OF ELECTION SUPERVISORY BOARD DECISIONS. Decisions of the Election Supervisory Board may be appealed and heard by the Supreme Court on the basis that the appellant brings forth an actionable complaint regarding an action or ruling of the Election Supervisory Board.