CHUUK STATE SUPREME COURT
TRIAL DIVISION
Cite as Christlib v. House of Representatives ,
9 FSM Intrm. 503 (Chuuk S. Ct. Tr. 2000)

[9 FSM Intrm. 503]

MASACHIRO CHRISTLIB and SINGKORO HARPER,
personally and in their official capacities as the Speaker
and Vice Speaker, respectively, of the House of
Representatives of the Fifth Chuuk State Legislature,
Plaintiffs,

vs.

THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES of the Fifth Chuuk
State Legislature,
Defendant.

CSSC CA NO. 146-99

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS

Soukichi Fritz
Chief Justice

Hearing:  December 9, 1999
Decided:  January 10, 2000

APPEARANCES:
For the Plaintiffs:        Wesley Simina, Esq.
                                     P.O. Box 94
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

[9 FSM Intrm. 504]

For the Defendant:     Erin C. McFadden, Esq.
                                     Deputy Legislative Counsel
                                     Fifth Chuuk State Legislature
                                     P.O. Box 1452
                                     Weno, Chuuk FM 96942

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HEADNOTES
Constitutional Law ) Chuuk ) Legislative Powers
     A state legislative body has the power to choose its own speaker from its own members and to appoint its own officers.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 505 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Constitutional Law ) Chuuk ) Legislative Powers
     A state legislative body, having the power to choose its own speaker from its own members, also has the inherent power to remove such officer at its will or pleasure.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 506 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Civil Procedure ) Dismissal; Constitutional Law ) Chuuk ) Judicial Powers
     The court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter or the complaint does not state a claim or cause of action upon which relief can be granted when it asks the court to hold the removal of the Speaker and Vice-Speaker null and void.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 506-07 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Constitutional Law ) Chuuk ) Legislative Powers
     The Chuuk Constitution requires that every 2 years when a new Legislature convenes, each house shall organize by the election of one of its members as presiding officer, but it does not require that he remain in office throughout his term.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 507 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Constitutional Law ) Chuuk ) Interpretation
     When constitutional language is clear, no outside reference is needed to explain any ambiguity.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 507 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Constitutional Law ) Chuuk; Elections
     The secret ballot provision of Chuuk Constitution article XII, section 2 relates only to general elections and has no application to proceedings in the House of Representatives.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 507 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

Constitutional Law ) Chuuk ) Equal Protection
     The protection afforded by the Chuuk Constitution due process and equal protection provisions can only be asserted when the denials of such rights is based on account of race, sex, religion, language, dialect, ancestry, national origin, or social status.  Christlib v. House of Representatives, 9 FSM Intrm. 503, 507 (Chk. S. Ct. Tr. 2000).

*    *    *    *
 
[9 FSM Intrm. 505]

COURT'S OPINION
SOUKICHI FRITZ, Chief Justice:
     This case comes before the Court after notice and hearing on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the Case on the grounds that the Court lacks jurisdiction to grant the relief that the Plaintiffs seek.  The Motion is well taken.

     The underlying issue in the case is whether this Court has jurisdiction to hold that the removal of the Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the Chuuk State House of Representatives is null and void and to declare that such action by the House of Representatives violates the rights of the Plaintiffs?  The rules of law and the decisions concerning these issues are well settled and include 72 Am. Jur. 2d States, Territories, and Dependencies 37 (1974), which states as follows:

The power to organize is inherent in each legislature or general assembly.  This includes the power of selecting its own presiding officer, clerks, and committees, prescribing its rules of procedure, and doing whatever is essential or expedient in the exercise of the powers conferred. . . .  Observance of the rules of a legislative body which regulate the passage of statutes is a matter entirely within the legislative control and discretion, not subject to review by the courts.

     Further, 72 Am. Jur. 2d States, Territories, and Dependencies 38 (1974) provides in part:  "From the foundation of representative government . . . the general rule has been that the legislative body of a state has the power to choose its own speaker from its own members and to appoint its own officers."

     And it is stated in 72 Am. Jur. 2d States, Territories, and Dependencies 41 (1974) (footnotes omitted) as follows:

Under the principle of separation of governmental powers, the legislative power of the state, which includes the authority to make alter and repeal laws, is vested in the state legislature.
 
. . . Accordingly, in creating the legislative department and conferring upon it the legislative power, the people of the state must be understood to have conferred the full and complete authority as it vests in, and may be exercised by, the sovereign power of the state . . . .  [A] state legislature or general assembly has unlimited power to act in its sphere of legislation . . . .  The courts are not concerned with the wisdom of legislation.

     The earliest case addressing this issue is In re Speakership of the House of Representatives, 25 P. 707, 707 (Colo. 1891) where the Court was asked two questions:

1.  "Under the constitution and laws of this state, can a speaker of the house of representatives, duly elected, qualified, and acting as such, be removed from office . . .?"

2.  "Has the court any authority under the constitution and laws to pass upon the matters thus presented for its opinion?"

     The court answered yes to the first question and no to the second.  In reference to the authority of the house to remove the speaker, the Court said:

From the foundation of representative government in this country, the general

[9 FSM Intrm. 506]

rule, as announced by standard American authors on parliamentary law, has been that the legislative body of a state, having the power to choose its own speaker from its own members, has also the inherent power to remove such officer at its will or pleasure . . . .  Such is the doctrine announced in the Manual of Parliamentary Practice prepared and published by President [Thomas] Jefferson during the early days of the republic . . . .

Id. at 708.

     The Colorado Court continued by saying:

In Cushing's Law and Practice of Legislative Assemblies, a comprehensive work of great merit, the distinguished author, at paragraph 299, says:  "The presiding officer, being freely elected by the members, by reason of the confidence which they have in him, is removable by them, at their pleasure, in the same manner, whenever . . . he has, in any manner, or for any cause, forfeited or lost the confidence upon the strength of which he was elected."

Id.

     The Colorado court observed in 1891:
 
that, during the hundred years of representative government in this country under written constitutions, not a single instance has occurred where the speaker of the national house or the speaker of any state legislature has been removed. . . . [C]ertainly, as a matter of law, during all this time, these legislative bodies have possessed the power thus to remove such officers . . . .

Id. at 711.

     The Colorado case is the first reported case on the subject and it has been quoted and followed for the past hundred years.  Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure (1989) is often referred to as the "bible" of Legislative procedure and the Colorado case is restated in many of its sections as follows:

71  Courts cannot interfere with rule making powers of legislative bodies.

72  Legislative policy is not within control of the courts. . . .  Under the constitutional provisions of separation of powers, the courts are without jurisdiction to interpose judicial authority as against the exercise of legislative authority and power.

563  2.  There is no authority for courts to control, direct, supervise or forbid the exercise by either house of the power to expel a member. These powers are functions of the legislative department, and therefore in the exercise of the power thus committed to it the house is supreme.  An attempt by a court to direct or control the legislature, or either house thereof, in the exercise of the power, would be an attempt to exercise legislative functions, which it is expressly forbidden to do.
 
4. The courts will not entertain a proceeding to determine the rights of one who has been unseated by a legislative body.

     It is clear from the foregoing that the court has no jurisdiction in this case and that on motion under Rule 12(b)(1) or (6), CSSC Rules of Civil Procedure, the case should be dismissed on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter or that the complaint does not state a claim or

[9 FSM Intrm. 507]

cause of action upon which relief can be granted.

     In view of the rules set out above, the court is without jurisdiction which renders moot the issues of due process and equal protection raised in the complaint. However, due to the public interest for clarification of the other issues argued by counsel, additional discussion is necessary.

     The Plaintiffs place strong emphasis on Article V, Section V of the Chuuk State Constitution, contending that its provisions require that they remain in office throughout their term.  The first sentence of Section V provides as follows:  "Every 2 years when a new Legislature convenes, each house shall organize by the election of one of its members as presiding officer."

     In support of their position, Plaintiffs offer an affidavit of Marcellino Umwech, a delegate to the 1988 Chuuk Constitutional Convention, to the effect that Section V was intended to prohibit the removal of the legislative officers during the 2 year term.  This Court finds the affidavit of no consequence to the decision in this case. The language of Section V is clear and no outside reference is needed to explain any ambiguity.  There is nothing in the Chuuk Constitution that is contrary to the general rules stated above concerning the jurisdiction of the Court in this matter.

     Plaintiffs also rely on Article XII, Section 2 of the Chuuk State Constitution that the removal of the Plaintiffs from office must be done by secret ballot.  The Court finds that a fair reading of Article XII, reveals that it relates only to "general elections" and has no application to proceedings in the House of Representatives.

     Plaintiffs argue further that their removal is in violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of Article III, Section 2 of the Chuuk State Constitution.  It is elementary that the protection afforded by the due process and equal protection provisions of the Constitution can only be asserted when the denials of such rights is based:  "on account of race, sex, religion, language, dialect, ancestry, national origin, or social status."

     The Plaintiffs have made no showing that they have been denied the constitutional right of due process or equal protection because of their being in a specified class listed in Article III, Section 2, above.

     Based on the foregoing analysis, the Court finds that the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss the case is due to be granted, and it is so ordered.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
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