The IU Student Government Supreme Court ruled Jan. 1 acting executive officials can spend money even if the IUSG Congress is unable to confirm those officials. After a public hearing was held Jan. 12 regarding the actions of treasurer Micah Jackson, the IUSG Supreme Court found Jackson guilty for unconstitutionally using IUSG funds for purposes not approved by the budget.
IUSG Congress has the sole power to allocate funds, Ruhan Syed, the finance committee chair in IUSG Congress, said. No actions were taken as a result of this decision, Syed said.
IUSG members Syed, Kathleen Ellingson and Jack Milton petitioned for the IUSG Supreme Court to review expenditures in October 2021 made by unconfirmed executive officials for purposes not approved in the budget. The petitioners argued in the Syed v. Jackson hearing that Jackson’s actions violated the IUSG Constitution and its bylaws, Madeline Dederichs, IU student body vice president, said. Dederichs spoke on behalf of Jackson at the hearing.
“The case brought up the question that we all had about what does it mean for student government if we don't have legitimacy or the opportunity to be able to confirm our nominations when we need them to?” Dederichs said.
In 2021, an amendment passed which required a certain number of multicultural seats to be filled for IUSG Congress to be legitimate. Congress was unable to fulfill the requirements and became illegitimate, according to the bylaws, Syed said. Because of Congress’s illegitimacy, it was unable to confirm nominations for the current executive administration, including Jackson, Syed said.
Three complaints were brought against Jackson, who was acting treasurer when the petition was filed, Syed said.
Jackson allocated funds that weren’t in the approved budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which was passed by Congress before it became illegitimate, Chief Justice Brennan Murphy said in the Supreme Court opinion. Jackson also allowed other acting members of the executive branch who hadn't been confirmed by a legitimate Congress to use the money from the budget. He exercised the powers of the treasurer of IUSG without the affirmative consent of Congress, Murphy said.
In the 2018 case Matthews v. Voice, the IUSG Supreme Court ruled unapproved executive allocations did not violate the IUSG Constitution in the absence of a valid congressional budget. In this case there was a budget approved by a legitimate Congress, so the unapproved spending was unconstitutional, Syed said.
The other two complaints from the petitioners dealt with how the executive branch can spend money in times of congressional illegitimacy. The IUSG Supreme Court ruled acting executive officials, including the treasurer, are allowed to spend money already appropriated only if Congress is unable to confirm those executive officials due to its illegitimacy.
“I agree with the Court’s opinion that if Congress isn’t there, the entire organization shouldn’t be brought to a standstill,” Syed said.