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Swearing in of Constitutional Convention Delegates Set for Monday

Oct. 26, 2007 — After months of being stalled by a lawsuit between St. John resident Harry Daniel and local board of elections members, the Fifth Constitutional Convention will kick off next week with swearing-in ceremonies for delegates scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday.
The bill to start the convention was passed by the full Senate during last week's legislative session, and was signed into law Friday by Gov. John deJongh Jr. Once the delegates are sworn in, they will have a year to come up with a draft document, which has to be ratified by the U.S. Congress and the president of the United States before coming back to the territory for a final vote.
"Neither the Senate nor the governor has the final vote on the constitution," Senate President Usie R. Richards said Friday evening. "There will have to be a referendum election, where the people of the territory vote to approve or not approve the constitution."
The original convention statute, which had swearing-in ceremonies scheduled for July, had timed the final vote on the document with next year's senatorial elections, Richards said.
"The way it was provided for by law is that the referendum would happen almost simultaneously with the elections to be held for senators," he explained. "We didn't know if that could still happen, with the delays that have happened in the process, but the group still thinks they could meet the deadline."
Daniel's lawsuit, which went though a lengthy bout in the V.I. Supreme Court, was dismissed late last month by a panel of V.I. Supreme Court justices. Daniel's subsequent plea for the panel to reconsider its ruling was also shot down a few weeks later, prompting his decision not to take the case to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (See "Daniel Bows in Bid Against Board of Elections.")
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