To the dissatisfaction of some Michigan Student Assembly representatives and Students for Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, the newly appointed Central Student Judiciary has decided to postpone the consideration of all appeals pertaining to a student chapter of PIRGIM until the fall.
In March, members of MSA filed an appeal challenging CSJ’s decision to halt MSA from funding a student chapter of PIRGIM on campus. CSJ ruled that doing so would threaten MSA’s tax-exempt status because Student PIRGIM could engage in activities that may be considered lobbying. Students for PIRGIM — which would become Student PIRGIM if approved for funding by the assembly — filed a separate appeal contesting CSJ’s ruling.
New CSJ justices, who were appointed Wednesday, said they were not familiar enough with the case or the CSJ manual of procedures to rule on it this semester. They also cited scheduling difficulties during exam time.
“It’s understandable that (CSJ doesn’t) want to be thrown into this whole thing right away, but it’s their job,” said Matt Hollerbach, an ex-officio MSA representative. “I think the main problem here is that they don’t understand the seriousness of the situation.”
MSA Student General Counsel Russ Garber said he would also like to have the ruling on the appeals now, but that carefully considering the case should be a higher priority for CSJ than making a speedy ruling.
“If CSJ feels uncomfortable ruling, then I understand,” he said. “I’m not happy about it, but I understand.”
Carolyn Hwang, president of Students for PIRGIM, said she is disappointed in CSJ’s decision not to rule on the appeals.
“We have a very strong case now, and I want to appeal before I graduate,” said Hwang, an LSA senior who will graduate this spring. “It is unjust (for CSJ) to wait until we are all gone to hear this case.”
Hollerbach said MSA may be open to lawsuits because of CSJ’s ruling, which put the allocation of some MSA funds under the discretion of the budget priorities committee. Hollerbach claims the move is a clear violation of MSA bylaws, which he says will not allow such allocation of funds. He said anyone who thought he had been wronged by an MSA funding decision could sue MSA because it is breaking its funding procedures.
“If MSA continues to operate without having the decision changed, we’re actually in more legal danger now than when (the original case against PIRGIM) was filed,” he said.
Garber said that while concerns over a lawsuit may be relevant, it is more important not to ignore CSJ’s ruling.
A group of MSA representatives is planning to file a stay of enforcement today. If approved by two or more of the 10 CSJ justices, the document would nullify CSJ’s ruling until an appeal could be heard. That action, Hollerbach said, would protect MSA from potential lawsuits and allow the assembly to vote on whether to fund Student PIRGIM.
Students behind the statement of enforcement met with MSA President Jesse Levine yesterday to gain his endorsement of the action.
Levine said he had not yet made a decision on whether to endorse it.
“I don’t have enough information to make that decision yet,” Levine said.