Governor pardons Virgin Islands rep to avoid qualifications concerns

Earlier I blogged about a decision by the Virgin Islands Supreme Court upholding the removal of a candidate from the ballot because the candidate had previously committed a crime involving moral turpitude. I explained that I think this decision is profoundly incorrect--it is left to the voters to decide whether a candidate meets the qualifications enumerated, and then left to the legislature to decide whether a candidate meets the qualifications. The legislature had already seated Senator Alicia "Chucky" Hansen twice before. But this time, an executive official attempted to remove her from the ballot, and the judiciary approved the removal--profound meddling with the legislature's right to evaluate the qualifications of its own members.

Yesterday, the governor of the Virgin Islands pardoned Ms. Hansen. This effectively moots the concerns created by the elections officer and the Virgin Islands Supreme Court. Which is, in some ways, unfortunate--the governor has to spend political capital for the swift resolution of a bad judicial opinion, and the judicial opinion remains on the books. But it also shows that even judicial seizure of power can be trumped by other means of the law--and, in this case, the executive acting to preserve the role of the voters in selecting their representatives and the role of the legislature in evaluating the qualifications of its own members.