KOSRAE STATE COURT TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Jackson v. Kosrae State Election Commn
11 FSM Intrm. 162 ( Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2002)

[11 FSM Intrm. 162]

GERSON JACKSON,
Plaintiff,
 
vs.
 
KOSRAE STATE ELECTION COMMISSION,
Defendant.
 
CIVIL ACTION NO. 76-02
 
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION; JUDGMENT;
ORDER TO KOSRAE STATE ELECTION COMMISSION
 
Aliksa B. Aliksa
Associate Justice
 
Hearing: September 25, 2002
 
Decided: September 25, 2002
 
Memorandum Entered: September 26, 2002
 
APPEARANCES:
 
For the Plaintiff:                       Jon M. Van Dyke, Esq.
                                                  2515 Dole St.
                                                  Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
 
For the Defendant:                  Edward Buckingham, Esq.
                                                  Assistant Attorney General
                                                  Office of the Kosrae Attorney General
                                                  P.O. Box 870
                                                  Lelu, Kosrae FM 96944

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HEADNOTES

Constitutional Law ) Kosrae ) Interpretation
      In analyzing constitutional provisions, a court must first look to the constitutions actual words. If those words are clear and permit only one result, the court should go no further, but if the language of a Kosrae constitutional provision or section is susceptible to more than one meaning, the court should look to the legislative history, including the Constitutional Committee notes and the journals, if available, to clarify the definition of the ambiguous term. Jackson v. Kosrae State Election Commn, 11 FSM Intrm. 162, 164 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Constitutional Law ) Kosrae ) Interpretation
      Words in constitutions are ordinarily given their natural, normal, usual, common, popular, general and ordinary sense. Jackson v. Kosrae State Election Commn, 11 FSM Intrm. 162, 164 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).

[11 FSM Intrm. 163]

Constitutional Law ) Kosrae
     Since the normal sense or definition of the word "term" does not include term limits, the phrase "for the same term," in Article V, section 6 applies only to the Lieutenant Governors four year term of office. It does not include any limitation on the number of consecutive terms of office that a person may serve as Lieutenant Governor. The term limits imposed on the Governor thus do not apply to the Lieutenant Governor. Jackson v. Kosrae State Election Commn, 11 FSM Intrm. 162, 164 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).
 
Constitutional Law ) Kosrae ) Interpretation
     When the constitutional language is clear and permits only one result, the court goes no further and does not consider its legislative history. Jackson v. Kosrae State Election Commn, 11 FSM Intrm. 162, 164 (Kos. S. Ct. Tr. 2002).

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COURTS OPINION

ALIKSA B. ALIKSA, Associate Justice:

     Plaintiff filed his Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief on August 29, 2002. Also on August 29, 2002, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Expedited Procedure. Both parties filed a Joint Motion to Expedite Judicial Review on September 10, 2002. Pursuant to the expedited briefing schedule set by the Court, both parties filed their opening briefs on September 16, 2002 and reply briefs on September 19, 2002. Hearing of this matter was set for September 25, 2002. Jon Van Dyke appeared for the Plaintiff. Defendant was represented by Edward Buckingham, Assistant Attorney General. The Plaintiff himself, Gerson Jackson, and Canney Palsis testified at the hearing.

      After close of the hearing, I granted judgment in favor of the Plaintiff and ordered the Defendant to accept the Plaintiffs nomination as a candidate for the Office of Lieutenant Governor. This memorandum sets forth the Courts decision and reasoning.

I. Facts.

     This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiff is currently serving his second consecutive term as Lieutenant Governor for the State of Kosrae. Plaintiff was elected in November 1994 and began his first term as Lieutenant Governor in January 1995. Plaintiff began his second term as Lieutenant Governor in January 1999.

     In August 2002, the Plaintiff submitted his nomination to be certified as a candidate for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor for the November 2002 election. The Plaintiff submitted the required number of signatures. The Plaintiff meets the residency, age, citizenship and voter qualifications for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

     The Defendant refused to accept Plaintiffs nomination as a candidate for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The basis for this decision by the Election Commission was that the Plaintiff is not qualified to run for a third consecutive term as Lieutenant Governor, based upon the Commissions interpretation of the 1995 amendments to the Kosrae State Constitution. The Election Commission issued its Notice of Final Determination of Non-Qualification on September 3, 2002. This lawsuit followed.

[11 FSM Intrm. 164]

II. Legal Analysis.

      The qualification and term provisions for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor are set forth in the Kosrae State Constitution, Article V, Sections 3 and 6. These provisions were amended in 1995 through amendments proposed by the Second Kosrae State Constitutional Convention. Sections 3 and 6 of Article V were amended to read as follows:

Section 3. The term of office of the Governor begins at noon on the second Tuesday of January following the general election and ends at noon on the second Tuesday of January four years thereafter. A Governor may not hold the same office for more than two consecutive terms and is eligible to hold the office of Governor only after one full term has intervened since his last day in office.

. . . .

Section 6. The Lieutenant Governor has the same qualifications as the Governor. The Lieutenant Governor is elected at the same time and for the same term.

Article V, Section 6 does not contain specific language imposing any term limit upon the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

     In analyzing constitutional provisions, a court must first "look to the actual words of the constitution. . . . If those words are clear and permit only one result, the court should go no further." Tafunsak v. Kosrae, 7 FSM Intrm 344, 347 (App. 1995). If the language of a Kosrae constitutional provision or section is susceptible to more than one meaning, the court should look to the legislative history, including the Constitutional Committee notes and the journals, if available, to clarify the definition of the ambiguous term. Id.

     I conclude that the words in Article V, Section 6) "for the same term") are clear and permit only one result. The word "term" is defined as a "fixed and definite period of time and implying a period of time with some definite termination." Blacks Law Dictionary 1470 (6th ed. 1995). For example, the word "term" means the period during which courts sit or schools are open. Websters New Dictionary 292 (2000). Words in constitutions are ordinarily given their natural, normal, usual, common, popular, general and ordinary sense. Chester Antieau, Constitutional Construction ch. 2, at 11 (1982).

      The normal sense or definition of the word "term" in Article V, Section 6, is the length of office of four years for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. The normal sense or definition of the word "term" does not include term limits. Therefore, the phrase "for the same term," in Article V, Section 6 applies only to the four year term of office of the Lieutenant Governor. The phrase "for the same term" does not include any limitation imposed on the number of consecutive terms of office that a person may serve as Lieutenant Governor. The term limits imposed on the Office of the Governor, through Article V, Section 3, do not apply to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

      Since the language of Article V, Section 6 is clear and permits only one result, this Court goes no further and does not consider legislative history.

III. Judgment and Order to Kosrae State Election Commission.

     Judgment is entered in favor of the Plaintiff and against the Defendant in this matter.

     Plaintiff is qualified to be nominated and run as a candidate for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in the November 2002 election.

[11 FSM Intrm. 165] 

    The Defendant is ordered to accept the petition nominating the Plaintiff as a candidate for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in the November 2002 election. Defendant is ordered to add the Plaintiffs name to the certified list of candidates for the Office of the Lieutenant Governor in the November 2002 election. Defendant is further ordered to place the Plaintiffs name on the ballot as a candidate for the Office of Lieutenant Governor November 2002 election. The Defendant shall complete all actions within the timeframe provided by Kosrae State Code, Title 3, Chapters 13 and 14.

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