Letter to the Editor: Decisions made by SA Supreme Court troubling

By Chris Michels

The recent decisions by the NIU Student Association Supreme Court are troubling and set a dangerous precedent.

In its third opinion, regarding improper adhesives, the court in a 5-0 decision ruled that they will look at whether there is sufficient grounds to support a sanction under a “de novo” standard. De novo, or “from the beginning” in English, means that the court will review all decisions by the Board of Elections, ignore their findings, and make their own decisions on whether a sanction is “reasonable.”

This is exactly what the court did in the two other, non-unanimous decisions. In a 4-1 opinion the Court questioned the sufficiency of evidence presented about “excessive littering,” even though the Board of Elections found the evidence to be sufficient.

In a 3-2 opinion, a bare majority found there should be no sanction for using non-certified handbills because the Board of Election’s timing to act was “unreasonable” because it was within the final minutes of the election.

The disturbing takeaway from these rulings is that it is not the elected SA Senators on the Board of Elections who get to decide if a sanction is reasonable; it is the un-elected Justices of the Supreme Court who get to decide.

The members of the SA are bound by the Bylaws and Ethics and can be removed if they violated them. If a Senator were texting a sanction to a party during the proceedings, they would be removed from office.

The Justices are not bound by these same rules.