Impeachment Process: Student Body President Jonathan Levin
Updated: Feb 18
Author: Parker Ridaught
On February 9, 2021, the Student Senate Judiciary Committee deliberated on articles of impeachment filed against Student Body President Jonathan Levin (the complete original filing is attached below). The articles were sent to the committee by a member of the student body, John Alvarez. The articles charged Levin with two accounts of nonfeasance (neglect or failure of a person to do some act which they ought to do/failure to perform a duty), one account of misfeasance (not doing a lawful act in a proper manner), and two accounts of malfeasance (wrongful or unjust doing of an act which the doer has no right to perform). Of the five charges, two of them were forwarded to the full Student Senate for their consideration through a majority vote of the committee, while three of them were voted down. Over the course of two meetings, the Student Senate debated the two forwarded charges and voted not to uphold either of them.
What were the impeachment charges against the Student Body President?
FAILED by the Full Student Senate after passing through the Judiciary Committee: The following two charges were upheld by the committee and passed to the full Senate for consideration, where they were voted down:
Nonfeasance: Levin was charged with violating Student Body Statute 205.3 (E)(2) for failing to comply with a lawful subpoena as laid out in the Student Body Constitution. The Judiciary Committee forwarded a subpoena on July 14, 2020 to the Student Body President in regards to text messages sent to members of the 72nd Student Senate in July of 2020. The charge alleges that the subpoena was not compiled with. Ultimately, the charge WAS voted to be forwarded to the Senate floor in a vote of 6-4, or six for and four against. This article was deliberated and voted on in the Student Senate on February 17th, 2021, and with a final vote of 11 for, 32 against, 1 abstention, and was NOT passed by the full Senate.
Misfeasance: Levin was charged with violating Article III, Section 3, Clause (H) of the FSU Constitution of the Student Body for failing to publicly advertise or take minutes of meetings held under the auspices of SGA. The charge specifically alludes to meetings of Levin’s appointed cabinet within the Executive Branch of Student Government. Ultimately, the charge WAS voted to be forwarded to the Senate floor in a vote of 7-3, or seven for and three against. This article was deliberated and voted on in the Student Senate on February 10th, 2021, and with a final vote of 20 for and 30 against, was NOT passed by the full Senate.
FAILED in Judiciary Committee: The following three charges were not upheld by the committee:
Nonfeasance: Levin was charged with violating Article IV, Section 5, Clause (A)(1) of the FSU Constitution of the Student Body for not appointing Student Body Supreme Court Justices within 6 weeks of a vacancy. The charge specifically referred to Levin’s forwarding of the Supreme Court Justices to the Student Senate for confirmation. Ultimately, the charge was NOT voted to be forwarded to the Senate floor in a vote of 1-9, or one for and nine against.
Malfeasance: Levin was charged with violating Student Body Statute 205.3 (B)(I) for disclosing private student information to a private student. The charge refers to him instructing a current member of his cabinet prior to her confirmation for the position to contact applicants who applied to appointed positions within Student Government. Ultimately, the charge was NOT voted to be forwarded to the Senate floor in a vote of 4-5-1, or four for, five against, and one abstention.
Malfeasance: Levin was charged with violating Student Body Statue Chapter 205.3 (C), (D), and (E)(2) for willfully instructing a private student to misrepresent themselves as an SGA officer. The charge references him referring to the current Chief Justice by her title prior to her confirmation by the Student Senate in a memorandum. Ultimately, the charge was NOT voted to be forward to the Senate floor with a vote of 2-8, or two for and eight against.
What is the impeachment process?
As laid out in Chapter 405 of Student Body Statutes, impeachment proceedings of elected or appointed officials may be initiated by a majority vote of the Student Senate’s Judiciary Committee, once written charges outlining the reasons and justifications for impeachment have been sent to the Chair of the committee by the Senate Program Assistant. Elected or appointed officers of the student body may only be charged with misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary. Any member of the student body within good standing may file impeachment charges. Submitted charges are not indication of guilt - it is up to Student Senators to review the validity of the charges.
As an accused officer, Levin was notified of the charges filed against him at least one week prior to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing. As is his right, Levin spoke in his defense at his hearing, along with his Attorney General, Kelvin Ready. He also had the option to refuse to show up or speak, if he had wanted to do so. The Judiciary Committee openly deliberated and voted on whether to recommend impeachment to the full Student Senate. Since two of the five charges were forwarded to the Student Senate through a majority vote, the Student Senatevoted on whether to impeach the Student Body President at the full senate meeting. The first article impeachment was heard and voted down at the Wednesday, February 10th meeting and the second article of impeachment was heard and voted down at the Wednesday, February 17th meeting.
The Student Senate voted through an open ballot, and Levin once again spoke in his defense and answered questions from the Student Senate. A ⅔ vote of the Student Senate was required to impeach Levin and send the articles of impeachment to the Supreme Court. Since both articles were voted down well below that threshold, the articles were not forwarded to the Student Supreme Court for final consideration, as explained in Article VII, Section 4 of the FSU Constitution of the Student Body.
To engage in Student Government, the Student Body can email their representatives using the publicly available information found throughout the SGA website. Additionally, students can speak during public comment at Student Government meetings.