Puerto Rico's New Governor Is Out, 5 Days After Swearing In

High court overturns Pedro Pierluisi as governor
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 7, 2019 2:48 PM CDT
Puerto Rico's Top Court Overturns New Governor's Swearing In, 5 Days Later
Pedro Pierluisi, sworn in as Puerto Rico’s governor last week, exits after speaking at a press conference at the government mansion La Fortaleza in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019.   (AP Photo/Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

Puerto Rico's Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the swearing in of Pedro Pierluisi as the island's governor less than a week ago, clearing the way for Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez to take up the post after weeks of turmoil. The unanimous ruling said Pierluisi must step aside immediately; Vázquez was sworn in the same day. The high court's decision, which cannot be appealed, was expected to unleash a new wave of demonstrations, following on to those that forced the last governor to resign, because many Puerto Ricans have said they don't want Vázquez as governor. "It is concluded that the swearing in as governor by Hon. Pedro R. Pierluisi Urrutia, named secretary of state in recess, is unconstitutional," the court said in a brief statement. After the ruling, Vázquez said she would step in as governor despite earlier saying didn't want the job.

"Puerto Rico needs assurance and stability. Our actions will be aimed toward that end and it will always come first," she said in a statement. Pierluisi said previously he would respect whatever ruling was made. Pierluisi was appointed secretary of state by then-Gov. Ricardo Rosselló while legislators were in recess, and only the House approved his nomination. Pierluisi was then sworn in as governor Friday after Rosselló formally resigned in response to angry street protests. Puerto Rico's Senate sued to challenge Pierluisi's legitimacy as governor, arguing that its approval was also necessary, and the Supreme Court decided in favor of the Senate. Vázquez, a 59-year-old former prosecutor, is now Puerto Rico's second female governor, serving out the remainder of Rosselló's term, with the next election scheduled for 2020. (Vázquez has her own problems.)

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