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  • Pedro Pierluisi holding a news conference after swearing in as Governor of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

    Pedro Pierluisi holding a news conference after swearing in as Governor of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 August 2019

The lawsuit, which seeks to order Pierluisi to immediately quit his functions, says his appointment as secretary of state was illegal.

The Puerto Rican Senate filed Sunday a lawsuit against the island’s newly appointed leader, Pedro Pierluisi, arguing the way he ascended to the governorship is unconstitutional. 

RELATED: 

Puerto Rico: Newly Appointed Secretary of State to Be Rossello’s Replacement

Pierluisi was sworn in as the new United States’ territory governor on Friday, after the resignation of Ricardo Rossello. The first person in Puerto Rico’s line of succession is the secretary of state, Rossello named Pierluisi as such on July 30 in order for him to take charge of the top post.

The lawsuit, which seeks to order Pierluisi to immediately quit his functions, says his appointment as secretary of state was illegal because it needed to be endorsed by both chambers, the House of Representatives and the Senate if he was to become the new governor.

Pierluisi was confirmed by recess appointment law after only the House voted Friday to ratify his nomination. 

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz said a vote on Pierluisi's nomination had been scheduled for Monday, but Pierluisi said a vote now is questionable since he is already governor.

"I remind all that I swore in as governor being in full possession of the post of secretary of the Department of State," Pierluisi said in a statement. "I swore that post while the Legislative Assembly was in recess, as that ceremony took place Wednesday, July 31 at 5:00 p.m. and the extraordinary session of the Legislative Assembly did not start until Thursday at 11:00 a.m."

Senator Juan Dalmau said Monday through a tweet that the vote called by Schatz, and scheduled for Monday, had been canceled. The Senate is now demanding the Puerto Rican Supreme Court to take up the dispute, but justices have not yet indicated whether they will do so.

"Although it is regrettable that this matter has to be dealt with in our courts, I hope that it will be treated with the greatest urgency and diligence for the good of the people of Puerto Rico," Pierluisi answered Sunday, agreeing to let the court decide.

The on-going political crisis in Puerto Rico is the result of an 889-page document, released by the non-profit journalism group Center for Investigative Journalism which revealed that Rossello led a racist, misogynist smear campaign against his competitors and journalists. As well as allegations of corruption and mishandling of public funds in his administration. 

After 12 days of consecutive protests, where thousands of Puerto Ricans took to the street, Rossello announced his resignation effective Aug. 2, despite his hesitancy to do so a few days before.

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