The Fiscal Oversight Board filed yesterday a petition for a writ certiorari seeking that the U.S. Supreme Court validates the constitutionality of the appointments of its member.
In taking this step, the entity created by PROMESA assured that “disrupting the Oversight Board’s operations would have immediate and devastating consequences for the economy and the debt restructuring process,” and that it would undermine the authority of the U.S. Congress.
Less than three weeks from the date set by the First Circuit Court of Appeals to confirm or reconstitute the Board, the fiscal entity argued yesterday before the Supreme Court that the First Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the statute that facilitates the renegotiation of the island's debt based on an incorrect interpretation.
For the Board, the appellate court misinterpreted "the structural relationship between the national government and territorial governments" and the role Congress plays in determining how U.S. possessions are governed.
"The decision (of the First Circuit Court of Appeals) thus has sweeping implications, not only for Puerto Rico and the over 3 million United States citizens who live there but also for Congress’s authority to structure territorial governments," the Board said in its appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Board went to the Supreme Court one day before Judge Laura Taylor Swain’s general hearing on Title III cases today, which will be decisive for the Board and the Unsecured Creditors Committee (UCC) to continue with an appeal seeking to invalidate at least $6 billion in general obligations and another $4 billion in Public Buildings Authority bonds, while the entity is negotiating with the government next fiscal year's budget.
On February 15, the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the scope, powers, and discretionary power that Congress granted to the Board members are such that they are U.S. government principal officers and, as a result, their appointments required the advice and consent of the Senate.
"The First Circuit’s ruling is the first in U.S. history to holding that territorial officials such as the Members of the Oversight Board must be appointed in conformity with the Appointments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As such, it raises a separation-of-powers question of fundamental importance respecting Congress’s exercise of its plenary Article IV power to structure territorial governments,” argued the Board.
After filing its petition, the Board said it would request that the “First Circuit Court extend the stay of its February 15 ruling pending the Supreme Court final disposition of the case.” According to the federal Appellate court´s decision, the Board can continue operations until May 16, unless President Donald Trump validates or reconstitutes the Board.
A spokesman for the federal Justice Department refused to comment when El Nuevo Día asked if Justice will also resort to the Supreme Court regarding this controversy.