A scheduled Dec. 12 court hearing on the composition of the Water and Power Authority Governing Board was postponed by V.I. Supreme Court Chief Justice Rhys Hodge. Hodge issued an order Nov. 29 granting time for the V.I. Legislature to weigh in on a matter spelled out in litigation filed by Gov. Albert Bryan Jr.
The governor is challenging the provisions of Act No. 8472, passed by an override vote of the 34th Legislature in 2021. The act trimmed the number of executive branch agency heads the governor could appoint to serve on the Water and Power Authority Governing Board from three to one.
After two attempts to have the act declared unconstitutional by the Superior Court — resulting in a permanent injunction against him — Bryan filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.
The matter was slated for legal arguments before the high court’s three-judge panel on Dec. 12, but lawmakers sent a notice saying they had not been advised.
“This matter is before the Court on an Informative Motion indicating that the Legislature of the Virgin Islands was not served with the Oct. 23, 2023, Order allowing it to file an amicus brief in the matter,” Hodge wrote in his Nov. 29 order.
With that, the chief justice ordered the matter taken off the Dec. 12 docket. He granted lawmakers permission to file an amicus — or “friend of the court” — brief and granted the appellant 14 days from the Legislature’s submission to reply to the brief.
Once those steps are completed, the court is expected to set a new hearing date. At issue is whether the 34th Legislature violated the Separation of Powers Doctrine by curtailing the governor’s authority to appoint members of his choice to the territory’s boards and commissions.