Benavente v. Bennett – Case Brief Summary (N.Mariana Islands)

In Benavente v. Bennett, 2008 MP 4 § 5, which addressed whether two members of the Public School System's board could certify a question regarding the governor's appointment of a non-voting teacher representative to the board, we rejected the certified question for lack of jurisdiction.

The Court did so for two reasons.

First, Benavente explained that the "constitutional or statutory powers or responsibilities" of the two board members were not "implicated" when the appointment power for the teacher representative was reserved to -- and retained by -- the governor. Benavente, 2008 MP 4 § 10.

The board's powers were not implicated because, as here, the governor did not have discretion in appointing a teacher representative. On the contrary, the Commonwealth Constitution mandated the governor "appoint the teacher representative selected by the exclusive bargaining representative of the PSS teachers." Id. § 10 n.5.

Second, Benavente observed how both parties recognized that they were not the teacher's exclusive bargaining representative. Thus, while these two board members undoubtedly had an interest in who they served with on the board, this interest did not transform a disagreement about the selection process for the teacher representative into a "dispute." NMI Const. art IV, § 11.