IU Student Government Congress alleged the IUSG Executive Branch spent student money without a congressionally approved budget, and the Student Body Supreme Court had a hearing Thursday to hear both sides.
No decision was made by the IUSG Supreme Court on the case. They have a seven-day period to deliberate and then will issue a decision.
“We need to make things right so that we don’t set a bad precedent,” associate justice Graham Vogtman said.
The hearing comes after Congress petitioned a request for injunctive relief Oct. 12 and alleged Student Body President Alex Wisniewski spent money, without a congressionally approved budget. An injunctive relief, Vogtman said, is a special court order to stop or suspend an action that causes immediate and egregious harm.
Included in the payments for Wi-Fi in the student government office and to TurboVote, a website that helped over 600 students register to vote, Maggie Hopkins, IUSG vice president of administration said.
“We have a student government that is crippled right now,” chief justice Anthony Kail said.
The IUSG Supreme Court’s main goal for the hearing was to determine what action IUSG Congress specifically wanted them to stop with their petition for injunctive relief, Vogtman said.
“They have quietly continued to manage the budget until I made it an issue,” Blue Matthews, speaker of the house, said.
The IUSG Supreme Court decided an injunctive relief was not necessary. However, the court ordered the IUSG Executive Branch to submit a budget to IUSG Congress by Oct. 17 instead.
Wisniewski did submit a budget, Vogtman said, but the Congress argued it was more of a template rather than a full budget. The submission was not approved.
IUSG Congress argued that because the Constitution says they have original jurisdiction over the budget, giving them the right to draft and approve a budget.
“Please establish a precedent that Congress cannot be stepped on,” Matthews said.
However, some justices said the word jurisdiction only gave IUSG Congress the power to approve a budget, not draft it. Matthews said the word was likely a typo and that the writers meant to say authority.
“Just because it’s been done the wrong way in the past doesn’t mean we continue doing it the wrong way,” Matthews said.
Matthews also proposed a new system of forming a budget, where IUSG Congress develops a budget committee that allots money, along with a spending cap, for different IUSG functions or groups. If a group reaches their cap, they must come to IUSG Congress and explain their spending.
However, associate justice Eli Schantz pointed out the executive branch already requests money, which IUSG Congress approves. Justices began to question why this hearing was even occurring.
“This sounds like terrible communication between two branches of the government,” Kail said.
Specifically, Matthews told the court IUSG Congress wanted full access to IUSG funds so that they can verify it and not have to take the executive branch’s word. Furthermore, IUSG Congress wants to draft a budget that the IUSG Supreme Court orders the executive branch to follow.
“Congress thought ‘Let’s go to the other checks and balances of our system’,” Matthews said.
The executive branch said that budget drafting is normally a collaborative effort between IUSG Congress and the student body president.
“We are happy to explain and collaborate on a budget as long as it makes students lives better,” Hopkins said.