Student Court Case Tracker: Fitzgerald v. Xu

Media Credit: File Photo by Grace Hromin | Senior Photo Editor

The complaint argues that the legislation grants the finance committee unconstitutional power vested in the executive branch and the Student Court and violates due process.

The Student Association Office of the Legislator General filed a lawsuit against the head of the SA Senate’s finance committee in February over new authority given to the finance committee to sanction student organizations.

The complaint argues that the legislation grants the finance committee unconstitutional power vested in the executive branch and the Student Court and violates due process. The senate passed legislation that could solve some of the issues mentioned in the complaint.

The court has scheduled arguments over the revised legislation for Sunday.


April 7, 2022 at 2:22 a.m.
Student Court to hear case on finance bylaws, student organization sanctions Sunday

The Student Court will convene Sunday to hear a case on the Student Association’s updated finance laws that allowed the finance committee to sanction student organizations.

In a general order issued Monday, Chief Justice Yun-Da Tsai said the hearing will take place Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Law Learning Center to rule on the Office of the Legislator General’s February complaint alleging that the bylaws grant the finance committee “unilateral authority” to enact sanctions. Tsai said in the order that the defendant – SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U, and the head of the SA finance committee – and the Office of the Legislator General need to submit briefs to him by Friday.

-Lauren Sforza

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April 4, 2022 at 2:23 a.m.
Xu urges Student Court to dismiss case against finance bylaws

Student Association Sen. Yan Xu requested the Student Court dismiss a case Thursday that could overturn legislation he introduced to widen the SA Senate finance committee’s authority to regulate financial activities among student organizations, arguing the lawsuit is irrelevant.

The SA Office of the Legislator General filed a lawsuit in February against Xu, the chair of the finance committee, alleging that the updated bylaw gives the committee too much power over registered student organizations. Xu proposed legislation that the senate passed in response later that month, which addressed most of the suit’s complaints, but the plaintiffs filed a revised complaint last month, arguing that the committee’s power to sanction student organizations is still unconstitutional.

“The Defendants believe the Court should wait for further factual development in the form of a dispute over an implemented procedure that would facilitate the Court’s review of the sanction process,” the answer to the lawsuit reads.

-Lauren Sforza

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March 25, 2022 at 11:03 a.m.
Student Court issues defendant response deadline to revised complaint

The Student Court on Thursday issued a March 30 deadline to Student Association Senate finance committee chair Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U, to respond to an amended complaint filed by an SA executive office.

The Office of the Legislator General filed the amended complaint Wednesday, arguing that the recently updated finance bylaws still grant the finance committee “unilateral authority” to sanction student organizations. Xu, the primary defendant in the suit, introduced a bill, which was passed by the senate earlier this month, in an attempt to render the initial complaint moot.

Yun-Da Tsai, the court’s chief justice, said Xu will have seven calendar days to respond to the amended complaint in an email to Xu and Assistant Legislator General Juan Carlos Mora Thursday. Should Xu respond, the court will then hold an initial consideration hearing to determine if they will hear the case.

-Henry Huvos


March 24, 2022 at 12:59 a.m.
SA Office of the Legislator General files revised complaint on finance bylaws
A Student Association executive office filed a revised complaint Wednesday in the Student Court as part of its suit against the head of the SA Senate’s finance committee, arguing that recently updated finance bylaws are still unconstitutional.

The SA’s Office of the Legislator General filed a lawsuit against SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U and chair of the finance committee, earlier this month against legislation that gave the finance committee the power to sanction student organizations. Xu introduced a bill to address issues laid out in the complaint and then filed a motion in late February to stay the lawsuit, saying that this new bill will resolve the issues highlighted in the suit.

Xu said in his motion to stay that the bill would “explicitly overrule” and “supersede” the updated bylaws in question because it would remove the sanctioning powers of the finance committee, rendering the complaint moot. The senate approved the bill, but the court still needs to hold an initial consideration of the case after Xu will submit an answer to the complaint.

The revised complaint states that the passed updated finance bylaws still grants the finance committee “unilateral authority” to sanction student organizations. The complaint reads that the bill does not outline a process for how the finance committee would administer sanctions to student organizations.

-Isha Trivedi

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March 1, 2022 at 10:56 a.m.
SA Senate passes financial reforms that could render Student Court case moot
The Student Association Senate on Monday passed the Financial Reform Act, a bill that could shake up the pending Student Court case.

Senators unanimously passed the bill Monday to replace the existing financial bylaws with a Code of Financial Policies, a separate governing document including all of the financial policies and regulations. Xu said in his motion to stay that the bill would “explicitly overrule” and “supersede” the updated bylaws in question, making the complaint moot if the legislation passes.

The sections on sanctioning and fining student organizations that the plaintiffs allege are unconstitutional have been removed from the Code of Financial Policies, according to the legislation.

-Lauren Sforza

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Feb. 28, 2022 at 12:51 a.m.
Student Court delays initial consideration of finance bylaw complaint
The Student Court delayed its initial consideration of whether to hear the case aiming to strike down updates to the Student Association finance bylaws.

The court unanimously voted on Sunday to order a pause in proceedings until after the senate votes Monday on the Financial Reform Act, a bill that would address issues laid out in the complaint.

The defendants will be responsible for emailing Chief Justice Yun-Da Tsai with updates on the status of the bill, including whether it passes and if SA President Brandon Hill signs, vetos or defers the legislation.

If the bill passes, the legislator general’s office will have seven days to submit an amended complaint to the court, the order states. If the bill does not succeed, the defendants will have seven days from when final action is taken on the bill to respond to the original complaint.

-Lauren Sforza

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Feb. 27, 2022 at 12:48 p.m.
Student Court chief justice extends defendant response deadline in finance bylaws case
The chief justice of the Student Court released an order Friday extending the deadline for defendants to answer a complaint opposing updated finance bylaws.

Chief Justice Yun-Da Tsai, a third-year law student, granted a motion to stay the defendants’ response deadline until after the senate votes Monday on the Financial Reform Act, a bill that would address issues laid out in the complaint.

Tsai said in the order that if the senate takes any action on the bill, like passing or rejecting it, the defendants will have seven days to submit their answer to the complaint. He said the court will meet Sunday to determine whether to hear the case.

Xu had requested the stay, arguing the Financial Reform Act would “explicitly overrule” and “supersede” the updated bylaws in question, making the complaint moot if the legislation passes.

“While there is a question as to mootness, Defendants believe this is a question best left to the Court to decide,” Xu said in his motion. “Also, the nature of Defendants’ response to the complaint depends entirely on whether or not the legislation passes on Monday because Defendants would contend that the Financial Reorganization Act is moot if the legislation passes.”

The Senate will meet Monday at 8:30 p.m. in the University Student Center Continental Ballroom.

-Lauren Sforza

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Feb. 24, 2022 at 8:35 a.m.
SA executive office files complaint in Student Court opposing updated finance bylaws

The Student Association Office of the Legislator General filed a complaint with the Student Court Monday to overturn sections of legislation that widened the SA Senate finance committee’s authority to regulate student organization financial activities.

SA Legislator General Holden Fitzgerald and assistant legislators general Juan Carlos Mora and Andrew Harding filed the complaint opposing sections of the Financial Reorganization Act – a bill that amended the SA’s finance bylaws in December, allowing the finance committee to impose sanctions and fines on student organizations that break from SA finance policies. The complaint argues that the legislation grants the finance committee unconstitutional power vested in the executive branch and the Student Court and violates due process.

“The committee has, in effect, aggrandized itself, as a legislative sub-entity, lacking the will of the entire Senate in imposing sanctions, with enforcement powers reserved for the executive branch,” the complaint reads.

Under the updated bylaws, the finance committee can fine student organizations at least 50 percent of their general allocation or 100 percent of either a line item or their remaining student body funds. The bylaws state that the finance committee also has the power to prohibit a student organization from receiving additional funding in the future.

The plaintiffs argue that the bylaws permit the finance committee to oversee “financial disputes” involving student organization funding in violation of the SA Constitution, which states that the court should have jurisdiction over these disputes.

The complaint states that the legislation provides the finance committee with nearly “unilateral authority” over student organizations’ financial appeals, which should fall before the entire senate. The plaintiffs allege that the finance committee’s control of the appeals process violates the due process clause in the SA Constitution, which states that all registered student organizations are entitled to due process of law in front of the entire senate.

SA Sen. Yan Xu, ESIA-U and chairperson of the finance committee and the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement that he plans to introduce legislation at the SA Senate meeting Monday “to address the issue” outlined in the complaint. He said he could have notified the legislator general’s office about the upcoming legislation, but the office did not reach out to him with any concerns about the bill before filing the complaint.

“The student body deserves an SA that focuses on important issues, not one that blindsides itself and causes meaningless internal conflicts,” Xu said in the statement. “Valuable time that I want to spend helping orgs with their finances must now be spent defending myself against a frivolous and unnecessary lawsuit. The student body deserves better than that, and I urge the OLG to do better.”

SA Vice President Kate Carpenter, who along with Xu is named as a defendant, did not return a request for comment.

The court issued an initial order in response to the complaint Monday, stating that the court will initially consider the case Sunday to determine whether it will rule on the case in an official hearing.

-Lauren Sforza

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