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Queries on “illegally-constituted” JBC


LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… For I determined  not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified…” (1 Corinthians 2:2, the Holy Bible).

QUERIES ON “ILLEGALLY CONSTITUTED” JBC: Ricky Ramos, an outgoing president (like me) of the Rotary Club of University District Manila under District 3810 of the Rotary International, sent this question: “Classmate Batas, kung iligal ang constitution ng Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) from 2001 up to now, null and void ang mga appointment ng justices nilang inappoint for the same reason.

“Dapat lahat ng kaso na dinesisyunan na kasama ang isa man sa mga ito ay null and void din, di ba? For example, kaso ni Hubert Webb, PAL (Philippine Air Lines), Lucio Tan, Hacienda Luisita. Ano sa tingin mo? ChangeMaker President Ricky Ramos”.

Translation: “Classmate Batas, if the constitution of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) from 2011 was illegal, it stands to reason that the appointed justices under this JBC was similarly illegal and null and void. It is but proper that the decisions of these justices would also be null void, right? For example, Hubert Webb, PAL, Lucio Tan, Hacienda Luisita. What do you think? ChangeMaker President Ricky Ramos.”

TWO SIDES ON THE “DE FACTO OFFICERS” DOCTRINE: Ricky, who calls me “Classmate” because we were presidents of our respective Rotary Clubs under District 3810 at the same time during Rotary Year 2011-2012, has a point. But then, there are going to be two (or even more) sides to this issue, as maybe apparent from our column yesterday with the reactions of two of our readers.

The first side, judging from the readers’ reactions that we published here already, says that, assuming the appointments of the Supreme Court justices and of the judges of all lower courts were null and void because they were made under a JBC whose composition violated the 1987 Constitution, the acts and decisions of these magistrates are nevertheless valid, under the “de facto” officers doctrine.

The second side, on the other hand, maybe exemplified by the decision of the United States Supreme Court, in the case of James D. Ryder vs. US, 515 U.S. 177, a 1995 case, where the ruling, as penned by Chief Justice William Hubbs Rehnquist, indicated that the “de facto” officers doctrine cannot apply if the acts complained of pertain to a violation of the Constitution, and where there was an immediate challenge against the supposed “de facto” officers.

RYDER VS. US: “DE FACTO” OFFICERS DOCTRINE REVISITED: Here are some parts of what Rehnquist, who is the 16th Chief Justice of the US, wrote for the Court: “(Ryder), an enlisted member of the United States Coast Guard, challenges his conviction by a court martial. His conviction was affirmed first by the Coast Guard Court of Military Review, and then by the United States Court of Military Appeals.

“The latter court agreed with petitioner that the two civilian judges who served on the Court of Military Review had not been appointed in accordance with the dictates of the Appointments Clause, U. S. Const., Art. II, §2, cl. 2, but nonetheless held that the actions of those judges were valid de facto.

“We hold that the judges' actions were not valid de facto… We think that one who makes a timely challenge to the constitutional validity of the appointment of an officer who adjudicates his case is entitled to a decision on the merits… (especially) if his claim is based on the Appointments Clause of Article II of the Constitution--a claim that there has been a `trespass upon the executive power of appointment’…”

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