Pending Court Action Challenging Constitutionality of New WAPA Board Law

(U.S. Virgin Islands)- Attorney General Denise George announces the pending action brought by the Government of the Virgin Islands and Governor Albert Bryan Jr. in the V.I. Superior Court to prevent the implementation of Act No. 8472. This Act relates to the makeup and the removal of members of the V.I. Water and Power Authority (WAPA) Governing Board.

The action is unconstitutional and unlawfully infringes upon the power and authority of the executive branch and chief executive, in violation of the separation of powers doctrine under the Revised Organic Act of 1954 and the Constitution of the United States. Act No. 8472, which was overridden by the 34th Legislature after the Governor’s veto, reduced the number of WAPA Board members from nine (9) to seven (7) by specifically removing two out of three of the executive cabinet members from the WAPA Board, and specifically appointing the Director of the Virgin Islands Energy Office as the sole cabinet-level member on the board. Attorney General George said the pending court action filed by her office on Friday, August 27, 2021, consists of a complaint and a motion for temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction.

It asserts that the legislature’s purposeful restrictions on a Governor’s intrinsic power of appointment and removal of executive branch board members to the WAPA Board unlawfully restricts and erodes the Chief Executive’s supervision and control of the executive branch of the Government of the Virgin Islands as mandated in the Revised Organic Act of 1954.

She said, “The court action specifically asks the V.I. Superior Court to enjoin the V.I. Water and Power Authority from implementing or operating under the new law and to declare that Act No. 8472 is unconstitutional and inorganic, therefore void as a matter of law.” AG George also noted that only a court of law can render a final determination on the constitutionality of a statute. Assistant Attorneys General Ariel Smith and Julie Beberman represent the Government and Governor Bryan in the action.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2021
Sandra Goomansingh
Media Relations Director
(340)774-5666 ext. 10105
Email: Sandra.goomansingh@doj.vi.gov

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