Over four years after 78.3% of Rhode Island voters spoke loudly in demand of Separation of Powers (SOP), their will has been validated. Today the Rhode Island Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion that loudly and clearly enforces the will of the people of Rhode Island in their demand for checks and balances. The issue now is settled, the final chapter is written, and Separation of Powers is ready to be put to rest.
The Supreme Court ruled on four questions submitted by the House of Representatives with regard to the 2004 amendment. Three questions dealt with whether the powerful Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is subject to the amendment. A fourth question asked whether or not the governor’s power to appoint the members of all state executive boards and commissions, with the Senate’s advice and consent, is “self-executing.” In other words, did that power go in to effect when the voters passed it, or does the General Assembly need to pass additional legislation before the amendment can go into effect? The court’s answers are clear; the CRMC is subject to SOP and the SOP amendment is self-executing.