IU Student Government president Ky Freeman and vice president Madeline Dederichs were inaugurated Friday night despite efforts from six IUSG Supreme Court justices and Inspire to postpone the inauguration.
Seniors Freeman and Dederichs are part of the Elevate ticket, which received a total of 2,697 votes, according to a document from the IUSG Supreme Court.
In his inaugural speech, Freeman said the COVID-19 pandemic and recent social unrest show that normal is broken. Instead of aiming for a return to normalcy after a tumultuous year, Freeman said he wants to create a new normal that reflects the recent radical change.
“Today, we will take the first step in redesigning that new normal together,” Freeman said. “A normal that prioritizes engagement with one another. A normal that energizes you to keep pushing forward in moments of exhaustion. And lastly, a normal that empowers you to use your voice as a vehicle of change.”
Dederichs focused on activism, stating that their administration will work to represent and rectify the issues of all students.
“Bringing all students to the table no matter what their walks of life are is essential to identifying and reporting new solutions to all issues that arise,” Dederichs said. “Student activism is fundamental to not only our time at IU, but also will determine the legacy and experiences of the generations that follow our graduation dates.”
The inauguration was initially scheduled for April 15, but an unprecedented number of election complaints delayed the vote certification process. On May 5, the IUSG Supreme Court finally certified the votes 33 days after polls closed.
The Inspire ticket appealed the vote certification to the court Tuesday, asking the court to reverse the certification and reopen the campaign period to address more complaints and appeals. According to its official petition, Inspire claims the court should not have certified the votes with two outstanding election complaints, did not need to certify the votes by May 5 and should not have excluded three supreme court justices from the ruling.
Three interim justices, appointed by former IUSG president Rachel Aranyi, were excluded from the ruling because the court already obtained the votes necessary for certification and they had not yet been trained to serve on the court.
An email from Chief Justice Brennan Murphy announced that Clerk of the Court Anna Engel ruled Inspire did not file their petition in a timely manner, therefore the court cannot consider the appeal. The IUSG Bylaws do not contain rules pertaining to appealing vote certification, but Engel inferred the appropriate timeframe to contest certification is 48 hours after the votes are certified, similar to the bylaw that states election complaints must be filed 48 hours after polls close.
Four hours after Murphy’s email, interim associate justice Cale Goodman sent an email contradicting Murphy, stating the IUSG Supreme Court will hear Inspire’s appeal. In an interview with the Indiana Daily Student, Murphy said this ruling did not have any official power because only six justices agreed. Seven justices must be present to make a ruling valid, and eight justices must agree to constitute a supermajority and overrule the clerk of the court.
“They never had the authority to make the decision in the first place.” Murphy said in an interview with the IDS.
Amidst the court’s internal conflict, Inspire submitted a request for injunctive relief, requesting that the inauguration be postponed. Once again, Murphy sent an email denying Inspire’s request but interim associate justice Jason Mbwa-Mboma sent an email contradicting Murphy’s ruling, going as far as to claim that the swearing-in of Freeman and Dederichs is “null and void”.
This email did not have the power of the court, as it violated a number of internal procedures and did not earn the approval of the clerk of the court or have the necessary number of justices to make a ruling.
The six interim justices who attempted to postpone the inauguration were appointed at the start of May by former president Aranyi, who won the presidency as part of the Inspire ticket. Interim justices are not yet confirmed by Congress or trained. The end of the school year resulted in turnover and the graduation of some justices, leaving the IUSG Supreme Court with five confirmed justices.
According to Murphy, it is customary to appoint enough interim justices to reach a quorum, thus giving the court enough power to continue operating. Instead, Aranyi appointed enough interim justices to constitute a new majority. In a court of 11 justices, six constitute a majority, seven constitute a quorum and eight constitute a supermajority.
In his first few hours as student body president, Freeman removed all six of Aranyi’s appointed interim justices, according to Murphy.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story said Freeman had appointed his own justices to the IUSG Supreme Court. He has yet to do so. The IDS regrets this error.
As of publication, Cale Goodman and Jason Mbwa-Mboma had not responded to questions regarding the emails. This story will be updated.