May 12, 2006

The Kaselehlie Press

Palikir, POHNPEI - The Department of Justice, on behalf of President Joseph J. Urusemal, has filed a Motion to Dismiss the complaint in the matter of Christian v. Urusemal, Civil Action No. 2006-009.

The motion was filed at the Appellate Division of the FSM Supreme Court on May 11 2006, to dismiss the complaint filed by the 14th FSM Congress on April 20 2006, asking the Court to find invalid or premature the President's vetoes of a number of bills passed during the Second Special Session in February.

The President had vetoed the bills stating that he was concerned that because the bills were passed in two readings on the same day, rather than separate days as the Constitution requires, the bills were passed in violation of the Constitution and should not be permitted to become law.

Accordingly, three arguments were presented in the Motion to Dismiss:

First, the President argues that the meaning of words in the Constitution is to be determined using certain rules of interpretation. The first and most important rule of interpretation is that words are given their plain and ordinary meaning. Applying this rule to the word "days" as used in the Constitution, a day means a calendar day as used in everyday English. Even if the Court were to look beyond the plain meaning to the intent of the drafters of the Constitution, it is stated in the Constitutional history that the drafters wanted to avoid "hasty passage" of bills. There is no legal basis on which to permit the Congress to establish legislative days that run a different course of time than a calendar day.

Second, the President argues that the Court does not have the power to set aside the President's veto. The Constitution gives the President the power to veto legislation for any reason. It also gives Congress the power to override the President's veto. However, the Courts have no power to affect a Presidential veto. This separation of powers between the branches is an important part of our political system.

Finally, the President argues that the Courts cannot review the matter because the plaintiff does not have standing, a legal principle that requires cases brought before the court to have certain characteristics, including an injury that can be cured by the Court. In this case, the defendant argues that the plaintiff has not alleged any injury that could be cured by the Court.