(SAN JOSE) — Pedro Pierluisi’s term as governor of Puerto Rico has been ruled unconstitutional, clearing the way for Justice Secretary Wanda Vazquez to become the next governor of Puerto Rico.
Vazquez, who will become Puerto Rico’s third governor in a week, released a statement recognizing the decision from the Supreme Court and saying she would accept the role of governor.
She had previously said that she did not have any interest in becoming to the U.S. territory’s chief executive.
Puerto Rico was thrown into disarray after leaked text messages allegedly showed former Gov. Ricardo Rossello and his staff making homophobic, misogynistic and sexist comments against opponents and critics, as well as mocking victims of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. Widespread protests followed, prompting the governor to initially say he’d step down after his term in 2020, before resigning almost immediately.
On Wednesday, the island’s highest court ruled in a unanimous decision that the part of the law of succession allowing the secretary of state to become governor — without the confirmation of both legislative chambers — was unconstitutional.
The interpretation of the succession law was the grounds by which Pierluisi became governor on Aug. 2 after being appointed by Rossello.
Rossello appointed Pierluisi as secretary of state just minutes before leaving the governor’s office. Due to a loop hole in the succession laws, Pierluisi was able to be sworn into that role and quickly as governor because the legislative bodies were not in session to review his nomination.
The law of succession as a whole was upheld by the courts.
The court’s decision said Pierluisi had until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to leave office. Ahead of the decision, Pierluisi said that he would step aside and allow Vazquez to become governor if the courts decided in that manner.
The suit questioning the legitimacy of Pierluisi’s governorship was brought by the island’s Senate after he took the position after only having the confirmation from the House of Representatives.
“Puerto Rico needs certainty and stability. Our actions will be aimed at that end and will always be first,” Vazquez writes.
Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.