The Supreme Court of Liberia has reserved ruling in a petition filed by four Senators questioning the amendment of Rule 63of the upper House that was agreed upon by 20 Senators in Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh’s impeachment proceeding.
During final arguments, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe stated in the petition that the amendment of Rule 63 to impeach Justice Ja’neh’s is unconstitutional.
Gongloe, in his argument, stated that the 20 Senators proceeded wrongly, and quoted Article 43 of the Constitution that states: “The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure for impeachment proceeding which shall be in conformity with the requirements of due process of law.”
He argued that the prescribed mandate of Articles 43 & 38 states that each of the two Houses of the National Legislature shall make rules, and quoted Article 29 as saying that the legislative power of the Republic shall be vested in the Legislature which shall consist of two separate Houses – a Senate and a House of Representatives – both of which must pass all legislations.
Article 43 also says that the power to prepare a bill of impeachment is vested solely in the House of Representatives, and the power to try all impeachments is vested solely in the Senate.
When the President, Vice President or an Associate Justice is to be tried, the Chief Justice shall preside; when the Chief Justice or a judge of a subordinate court of record is to be tried, the President of the Senate shall preside.
All persons shall be impeached by the concurrence of two-thirds of the total membership of the Senate.
Cllr. Gongole then requested the court to deny the amended Rule 63 that was agreed upon by 20 Senators in Associate Justice Ja’neh’s impeachment proceeding because, according to him, the 20 Senators proceeded wrongly.
The House of Senate comprises 30 members, two each from the 15 political sub-divisions of the country.
The petitioners’ lawyer strongly believes that the 20 Senators’ decision was unconstitutional and wants Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia to interpret that provision of the Constitution in order to resolve their concern.
But, Cllr Varney Sherman, who represents the 20 Senators and is part of the group, argued that the four senators do not have legal standing to come before the court because they concurred and voted; questioning: “Why are they running here and for what?”
He further questioned why should the four senators sue their 20 colleagues and on what basis, adding: “How can you be part of a system and want to excommunicate yourselves from a process we all participated in?”
Cllr. Sherman asked the Supreme Court not to grant the four senators’ petition seeking to prevent the amendment of the rule in connection with Justice Ja’neh’s impeachment proceedings at the House of Senate “because if this court does that, then you will be turning this court into a Magisterial Court.”
Senators Conmany Wesseh, Daniel Naathen, Milton Teahjay and Oscar Cooper through Cllr.. Gongloe questioned the amendment of Rule 63 of the House of Senate which, they said, was in violation of Article 43 of the Constitution of Liberia.