-Says, Court Fails To Settle The Constitutional Dispute
By R. Joyclyn Wea
Associate Justice Jamesetta Wolokollie has asserted that with the decision of the majority to dismiss the Senators’ petition, the court had again lost the opportunity to resolve an issue which is critical to ensuring that the Legislature follows the requirements of due process in impeaching a judicial officer.
“Unfortunately, the majority of this court upon hearing of the Senators’ petition has again decided to dismiss the petition on procedural grounds. By their decision, the court has lost the opportunity to settle once and for all the case of crucial national concern the constitutionality of the procedure being adopted by the Legislature in carrying out its impeachment proceedings against Justice Kabineh Ja’neh,” Justice Wolokollie.
Delivering her descending opinion on the dismissal, Associate Justice Wolokollie also noted that the dismissal by the High Court is an obvious attempt by the court to avoid its constitutional responsibility of addressing the alleged arbitrariness of the Legislature in its procedure to impeach one of the court officers is saddened.
“We must be reminded that it is squarely the function of this court to keep the powers of the government in their respective constitutionally defined orbits, maintaining an agile resistance to attempts at exercise of the power not in conformity with the constitution.
Justice Wolokollie who maintained her stand on the impeachment process of her colleague Justice Ja’neh emphasized that with the dismissal of the senators’ petition, the court has lost and once more failed to end this crucial national concern regarding the constitutionality of the impeachment processes.
Justice Wolokollie indicated that the procedure being adopted by the Legislature in carrying out its impeachment proceeding against Associate Justice Kabineh Ja’neh is illegal and unconstitutional.
Justice Wolokollie further contended that the precedence followed by the court, that one contesting the constitutionality of an act by the Legislature or Executive must be directly affected by said act is contrary to the first part of Article 26 of the Liberian Constitution.
“This principle based on precedence of the United States of America needs to be overturned and the right interpretation given to this provision of the Liberian Constitution which is clear on its face and needs no interpretation,” she slammed.
Article 26 of the Liberian Constitution states that “Where any person or any association alleges that any of the rights granted under this constitution or any legislation or directives are constitutionally contravened, that person or association may invoke the privilege and benefit of court’s direction, order or writ, including a judgement of unconstitutionality; and anyone injured by an act of the government or any person acting under its authority, whether in property, contract, tort or otherwise, shall have the right to bring suit for appropriate redress. All such suits brought against the government shall originate in claims court; appeals from judgement of the claims court shall lie directly to the Supreme Court.”
However, Justice Wolokollie added that the Supreme Court must ensure that the law takes precedence over anarchy, that power is restrained and placed at its proper constitutional axis adding “The business of this court is to resolve controversies especially those in which it has jurisdiction.”
Justice Wolokollie averred that until the issue of the interpretation of Article 43 is settled by the Supreme Court, the issue will keep resonating before it, as the law extants in this jurisdiction, is that a lower court judge cannot decide a case when the constitutionality of an act of the Legislature is squarely challenged. TNR