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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Court dismisses Senate lawsuit over SEC presidency

Acting president of the SEC Jessika Padilla Rivera.

By John McPhaul

The Court of First Instance, Superior Chamber of San Juan, under the direction of Judge Anthony Cuevas Ramos, on Monday dismissed the lawsuit filed by the Senate of Puerto Rico against the government of the island.

The controversy revolved around the vacancy of the presidency of the State Elections Commission (SEC), where the legitimacy of Jessika Padilla Rivera as acting president after the resignation of the previous president was discussed.

“Jessika Padilla is carrying out her functions as Alternate President in substitution of the President in accordance with the Electoral Code, with all his faculties, duties and prerogatives, so the separation of powers has not been violated. It is the duty of the Governor to submit appointments to the Legislative Assembly for advice and consent to fill the vacancy of the President of the SEC expeditiously and to ensure that the election procedures are not affected. As for the requests for extraordinary remedies, the causes of extraordinary injunction action are dismissed, since we understand that Jessika Padilla is acting as established by law and, in the same way, the Governor has complied with making appointments to fill the vacancy of President of the SEC,” confirmed Judge Cuevas Ramos in his ruling.

In addition, it was established that the Governor has the responsibility to submit nominations for the presidency of the SEC to the Legislative Assembly for its advice and consent, following the rejection of previous candidates.

The court recognized the autonomy of the SEC and clarified that Padilla Rivera’s action does not violate the separation of powers. The court decision underscores the ability of the Alternate President to exercise the prerogatives of the position of interim President, underlining the legality and conformity of her current position with current electoral legislation. For his part, Governor Pedro Pierluisi assured that Judge Cuevas’ ruling validates his position. “It is validated that I have fulfilled my duty, because at all times I have been willing to make nominations. What has happened is that they have not given way to it on three occasions. I do not rule out again that when this lawsuit ends, I will have to make another additional appointment to the presidency.”

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