Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

FSM Supreme Court Grants President's Petition for Writ of Prohibition

Palikir, POHNPEI (FSMIS): August 13, 2004 - In a unanimous opinion released August 4, 2004 the FSM Supreme Court granted President Urusemal's Petition for a Writ of Prohibition challenging the constitutionality of Congressional Resolution 13-69 and 4 F.S.M.C. 104(2).

Congressional Resolution No. 13-69, passed on January 19, 2004 by the 13th Congress of the FSM, removed retired FSM Supreme Court Justice Richard Benson from several civil and criminal cases that he had been specially assigned to preside. As a basis for its actions, Congress relied upon the provisions of 4 F.S.M.C. 104(2) that permitted it to disapprove of the continued services of any specially assigned justice that had served a cumulative period of 3 months.

In his petition to the FSM Supreme Court, President Urusemal challenged the constitutionality of CR 13-69 and 4 F.S.M.C. 104(2) on the basis that it violated the separation of powers between the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of the National Government and also on the basis that CR 13-69 and 4 F.S.M.C. 104(2) permitted and amounted to an unconstitutional process for removing a justice of the Supreme Court. President Urusemal challenged that there was only one constitutional process for removing a Supreme Court justice and that is by impeachment after trial and not by Congressional Resolution as occurred with CR 13-69.

In its findings the FSM Supreme Court held that both CR 13-69 and 4 F.S.M.C. 104(2) violated Article IX, Section 7 of the FSM Constitution and issued a Writ of Prohibition telling the Director of Court Administration that he was "prohibited from heeding, or otherwise giving any effect to, CR 13-69 [...]" and that he was to take all "administrative steps necessary in order for specially assigned justice Richard H. Benson to come to the FSM for the purpose of hearing those cases specially assigned to him."

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356