Wait no further: just this past Tuesday, in its first case in 3 years, Katz v. Limon, the Constitutional Council voted 3-1 to remove Undergraduate Senator Daniel Limón from office.
Review staff writer Carolyn Simmons first noted the potential for a dispute last November, in an article in the Review‘s print edition, “Questions Abound from Senator’s Departure.”
More details and exclusive interviews with participants in Katz v. Limon after the jump.
After winning a Senate seat in last year’s ASSU elections and serving the duration of spring quarter, Limón took a leave of absence from Stanford during fall quarter for personal reasons. Stopping out from Stanford, Limón could not participate as a senator during his absence. While some senators argued that constituted resignation from the the Senate, others were eager to welcome him back or ignore the situation.
As a result, Limón has been a voting member of the Senate for all of winter quarter up to this point, voting on legislation like any other senator.
Fellow Senator Zachary Warma, who argued the case for the plaintiffs, said the case deserved attention from the Constitutional Council because “both the senatorial and greater ASSU leadership failed exceptionally in even adequately dealing with the case.”
Warma said he took the case “to clarify for posterity the status of elected officials who take a leave of absence or quarter off, and to send a clear message to the legislative bodies that political inaction is not a viable, nor constitutional, route by which to deal with matters around the composition of the organizations.”
Limón himself said that “the Council did their best in coming to a just ruling.” Added Limón, “The probing was impartial, and the Council seemed amenable to new evidence.”
Limón’s biggest regret through the whole process was “that this quagmire was dragged on. I, along with my peers, could have looked at the Constitution more closely to
find out my official status upon return. There were definitely good intentions, but we could’ve dealt with it more expediently.”
Perhaps the most challenging part of bringing Limón’s case before the Constitutional Council was Limón’s reputation as one of the most well-liked and active members of the Undergraduate Senate. Warma said, “Honest to God, this is an extremely unfortunate situation. Both by this respondent, and the general Senate at large, Limón is incredibly well-liked, and with good right. Given the unforeseen decision of Daniel Limón to request a leave of absence, in no way was this a process that any senator, including yours truly, wished to be pursued.”
So what happens next? In addition to voting 3-1 that Limón is ineligible to remain on the Senate, the Constitutional Council also ruled 3-1 that all votes taken by the Senate during winter quarter upon Limón’s return must be reviewed. The ruling has implications for controversial votes, including those on special fees reforms that had unclear results due to different interpretations of Senate rules.
As for future similar cases involving Senate resignations, Limón implored, “I’d encourage our parliamentarians to work on crystallizing some of the opaque language in the governing documents concerning disqualification, registered students, and members of the Association. We just can’t have this happen again.”
In spite of the setback, Limón remains committed to serving the University community. “Cliché as it might sound, I am keeping my options open,” he said. “There’s a plethora to do on campus.”