(Bloomberg) — Pedro Pierluisi violated Puerto Rico’s constitution when he took office as governor last week, the bankrupt island’s Supreme Court ruled Wednesday.
The ruling means that Secretary of Justice Wanda Vazquez will become governor, even though she has said she doesn’t want the job. Pierluisi, former Governor Ricardo Rossello’s pick to succeed him after he was toppled in a scandal, was sworn into office Friday. But only Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives had approved his nomination for secretary of state, who would succeed the governor. The Senate this week failed to vote on the issue as the commonwealth’s constitution requires. Its president, Thomas Rivera Schatz, sued Sunday seeking an order to force Pierluisi out.
Pierluisi and Michelle De La Cruz Valencia, his spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Puerto Rico has been in turmoil for the past month after weeks of demonstrations though the streets of Old San Juan forced Rossello to resign. Residents were furious after the release of text messages in which administration officials ridiculed political rivals and ordinary citizens. The island of 3.2 million has struggled through years of grinding recession and a record $74 billion bankruptcy.
Vazquez is set to take office as the case is in its second year and as the island rebuilds after Hurricane Maria in 2017. Vazquez has said she will fulfill her constitutional duty but never sought the governorship.
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