Washington - The U.S. government and the Oversight Board requested yesterday the Boston First Circuit Court of Appeals to extend the stay of its February 15 decision on the appointment of its members and allow it to continue operations beyond May 16.
The Board requested, “that the Court extend the stay of its mandate pending the Supreme Court’s final disposition,” on whether or not to review the First Circuit decision declaring the appointment of the members of the Board unconstitutional, according to the petition filed by Donald Verrilli representing the fiscal entity.
Verrilli further requested the First Circuit to resolve the motion by May 3, so that the Board – overseeing the financial decisions of the Puerto Rican government – “may seek a stay in the Supreme Court if necessary.”
On February 15, the First Circuit Court ruled that the members of the Board members are principal U.S. officers and therefore they must be appointed by the U.S. president and "with the advice and consent of the Senate."
The First Circuit set a 90-day stay –which expires on May 16- for the Board to continue operations pending the President and Senate to constitutionally validate the Board or reconstitute it.
Under PROMESA, six of the seven members of the Board were appointed by former President Barack Obama from recommendations provided by congressional leaders. Obama directly appointed the seventh member.
“If the Board is compelled to stop operating, creditors will likely attempt to dismiss the Board’s ongoing debt- restructuring cases and file lawsuits that would seek immediate payment of billions of dollars and threaten irreparable damage to the Puerto Rican economy,” said Verrilli in the petition.
On Tuesday, the Board appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court the First Circuit decision on the appointment of its members without the support of the Donald Trump administration. Yesterday, the Board announced that “the U.S. agrees that a stay is warranted and therefore joins the Board's motion to stay the First Circuit's mandate.”
For Verrilli, who was Obama´s Solicitor General, the Supreme Court is likely to grant a writ of certiorari since, he said, it usually does so to determine whether certain officers have been constitutionally appointed even when there is a lot less at stake.
As in the writ of certiorari, the Board insists that its members are "territorial" officials.
They refer to Bhatia
On the other hand, the Board´s Executive Director Natalie Jaresko, informed yesterday senator Eduardo Bhatia, spokesman for the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), that the “Board reached out to the Governor’s representative to the Board (Christian Sobrino) to determine if the Government would consent, and we were informed that the Government has declined to give such consent.” Bathia had asked the Board information on the Governor’s proposed territory budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.
Sobrino said that Jaresko's remarks are not consistent with the conversation they had on Tuesday and that the government is willing to consider Senator Bhatia's request.
However, the Popular Senator warned that both the elected government and the Board ignore jurisprudence by the Puerto Rico Supreme Court that “ordered the Governor to produce a copy of a proposed territory budget that had been submitted by the Governor to the Board.”
Bhatia said that he will resort to “the heavenly court if necessary, but public information is public.”
Leysa Caro collaborated with this story.