The Constitutional Court is supposed to be the most credible institution in a government desperately lacking in credibility. Or, as everyone’s favorite Senator, Nate Gulley puts it, “Nobody knows the rules better than Constitution Court.” Well, apparently just about everyone knows the rules better than Con Court, because it appears that Justice Jerome Roberts has been collecting an ASUO stipend despite no longer being a fee-paying student, according to this Emerald article.
We had heard this rumor some time ago, but lacking the staff to follow it up, we simply hinted at it. It turns out that Roberts had to withdraw from the UO at the end of fall term due to academic ineligibility, but served on Con Court, received a stipend, and even went on the infamous USSA trip to D.C. which his buddy Senator Nate Gulley so obligingly broke common-sense ethical standards to fund. Now, the Green Tape Notebook makes it clear that only fee-paying students may serve in the ASUO and receive stipends, so Mr. Roberts will be paying back the $375 he “earned” on a “payment plan” to be worked out with ASUO Finance Coordinator Madeline Wigen. However, President Axelrod has decided (shockingly) to do nothing about the fact that Roberts attended the already scandal-tainted USSA trip, because “he was comfortable with the contributions Roberts had made to the USSA and with Roberts having gone on the trip, even though he was not a University student” (NB, this is the ODE quoting Roberts who is paraphrasing Axelrod. Yeesh.)
So, what does Mr. Roberts have to say for himself? “It didn’t occur to me to think, ‘hey you’re not paying the I-fee any more, so you’re not eligible.’ The last thing on my mind was con court when I switched schools.” Well, you must have been doing a hell of a job, Mr. Former Justice. I mean, if you aren’t familiar with the most basic premise of the ASUO, which is that it is government BY Fee-paying students, FOR Fee-paying students, how good of a justice could you have been? Somehow, Roberts must think that he did a good job, because according to the ODE “Roberts, who was confirmed to the court in spring 2006, said he plans to come back to the University in the fall and would like to once again hold a seat on the court.” Over my dead body, dude… shame on you for suggesting it, and shame on President Axelrod for encouraging you by saying “I think he would be eligible to hold any position. If he is a student and he is paying the incidental fee, he is eligible to run for any elected or appointed position.”
But there are even more questions coming out of this, some of which aren’t being answered. Such as, how did the Con Court not catch this itself? Where was Chief Justice Matt Greene in all of this? And for Gods sake, did Roberts rule on anything while he was not a student, and if not, why were we paying him to do nothing? The answer to these questions to date is a resounding “dunno.” Here’s what the ODE got:
Chief Justice Matt Greene is responsible for ensuring payment of stipends to other court members, according the court rules and procedures.
Greene said he was unaware that Roberts was no longer a student during winter term and said he does not have the power or ability to check on the enrollment status of other justices. Anyone may call the Registrar’s Office to ask if a student is currently enrolled.
Although Greene could not recall whether Roberts had participated in any rulings when he was not a student, he said only three members are required to make a ruling and Roberts would have been the fourth member on any decision he participated in.
Roberts also said he did not recall participating in any of the decisions made winter term. He recused himself from rulings regarding the rec center, where he works, and a ruling regarding the USSA trip.
Sorry, but this does not cut it, coming from the highest authority on ASUO rules. Chief Justice Greene should make public all decisions that Roberts ruled on immediately, and should probably resign as well. I’ve complained plenty about Con Court this year, but this is the final proof that they have zero credibility. Given the fact that there is no higher body which can rule on the Con Court’s behavior or rulings, Justices need to be held to a much higher standard. Another sad, pathetic, and embarrassing day for the entire ASUO.