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Puerto Rico workers union to request U.S. Supreme Court annulment of fiscal board actions

By on June 4, 2019

Attorneys Jessica Méndez Colberg and Rolando Emmanuelli, and Utier President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo (Courtesy)

Argues case law, members’ actions should have been invalidated

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s Irrigation & Electrical Workers Union (Utier by its Spanish acronym) will request the U.S. Supreme Court invalidate the decisions of the island’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, whose members were declared unconstitutional appointed earlier this year.

On Feb. 15, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the fiscal oversight board was not appointed as per the U.S. Constitution’s Appointments Clause, which calls for the president to seek the Senate’s advice and consent to confirm officials.

The Boston court affirmed the district court’s ruling against Aurelius Investment and Utier, rejecting their motions to dismiss the board’s bankruptcy-like petitions under Title III of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (Promesa), and ratified all of the board’s past actions.

The Appeals Court said the board could remain for 90 days with its authority unchallenged while the president and the Senate either validated or reconstituted the board pursuant to the Appointments Clause. Early in May, the Appeals Court gave the federally created board a 60-day extension to allow President Donald Trump and the Senate to act.

Utier said it will ask the top court to invalidate the board’s actions, arguing that case law should have rendered them null and void.

“We will file this writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to enforce its own jurisprudence. Federal rulings in previous cases state that when the appointment of a public official is declared unconstitutional because it goes against the Appointments Clause of the federal Constitution, his prior actions and decisions are declared null and void. Despite the fact that the Court of Appeals in Boston declared (the Board’s) appointments unconstitutional, it did not annul the decisions of the Board. This is contrary to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court,” Utier President Ángel Figueroa Jaramillo said in a statement.

The union of mostly workers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority—the more than $8 billion debt of which is near reaching a consensual restructuring by the fiscal board and the utility’s creditors—also wants to revoke the 60-day extension granted by the Appeals Court, allowing the board to continue operating until July 15.

Figueroa said Utier’s lawyer, Rolando Emmanuelli Jiménez, and attorney Jessica Méndez Colberg, are ready to file the appeal Wednesday with the U.S. Supreme Court.

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