Concerns about court actions voiced

By Mark McGowan

Concerns about recent actions of the Student Association’s Supreme Court Chief Justice and the court were voiced publicly at the group’s Sunday night meeting.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Ed Gil was not present at the meeting to hear the 45-minute discussion, where SA President Huda Scheidelman defended Gil’s and the court’s recent actions and the body heard some talk of possible impeachment.

“Impeachment is a scary word,” said SA President Pro Tem Thomas Gary, who told the senate to consider abuse of authority or dereliction of duty before acting.

Gil said the talk of the impeachment is a “shame. It’s just like last year when everyone wanted to impeach everyone because they couldn’t get their way. The SA is losing its credibility that way.”

Senate Speaker John Fallon, who began the discussion, said the court was overstepping its bounds, not following its bylaws and refusing to hear legitimate petitions. “We are the legislative body of the SA, not the supreme court,” he said.

“The court has acted appropriately,” Scheidelman said. She added the court could not be held responsible for not following bylaws because the justices did not know of their existence. However, Fallon said the court’s “ignorance is pathetic.”

The court serves to provide checks and balances for the SA, Scheidelman said. She said a “check on a check” by the senate “does not shed a positive light on our system of checks and balances.”

Sen. Dave Ivers, whose 11 petitions to the court were refused last week, said the court’s bylaws state the court “shall” hear petitions brought before them. “Shall means must,” Ivers said. “That doesn’t leave them any room to wiggle.”

The SA is liable for student money, Ivers said and warned the SA might face a class action lawsuit for “refusing to comply with the laws of the state of Illinois.”

Supreme Court Justice and former SA Vice President Cam Davis said he did not consider last week’s meeting, when the court threw out the petitions, a hearing, although Davis was not in attendance at the Wednesday meeting.

Mistakes have been made, Davis said, but assured the senate the court would work to prevent further trouble. However, Ivers said the court looks “like Dick Nixon” because of trying to forget mistakes.”

Sen. Jim Mertes questioned Gil’s accessibility, which Davis admitted “is no better than mine, which is bad.” Mertes said the responsibilities of Gil’s job “mandates that Ed Gil be accessible.

“The Supreme Court and Ed play a very important role in the decisions that affect the NIU student body,” Mertes said. “It has a negative impact for the Supreme Court.”

Mertes said he wants a written explanation from Gil why his accessiblity is “in Cam Davis’ words, bad.”

Gil said he thinks his accessibility is not a problem. “I feel I’m the most accessible of anyone, of any senator,” Gil said. “I’ve always returned every phone call from John Fallon, Dave Ivers and Phill Buoscio. I think it’s ridiculous.”

Some people call him up to seven times a day, Gil said. Others call him several times during the weekend, when he is often working out of town. “I’m not there for them to be calling and answering every single question,” he said. “If it’s a valid concern, sure—but if they call with the pettiest things, that’s not my duty.”