EXCLUSIVE: Indiana University student supreme court nominee voted down for supporting law enforcement
An Indiana University student Supreme Court nominee was denied due to his support of law enforcement.
Student government members also mentioned his connections to the “College Republicans and the Republican Party in general.”
Landon Muzzillo, an Indiana University student and nominee to the student Supreme Court, was denied a role on the court after student government members cited his ties to the College Republicans and his past defense of law enforcement.
“One of the main concerns” with his nomination, according to one student government Oversight and Reform Committee member, revolved around issues of “impartiality,” since Muzzillo had written an article in support of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in 2018.
Muzzillo confirmed that though he has somewhat changed his views on ICE in the past two years, his views on the issue would not affect his impartiality.
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Another committee member expressed concern over Muzzillo’s connection to the “College Republicans and the Republican Party in general,” asking for what Muzzillo had “specifically” done to distance himself from the organizations.
Muzzillo explained that he no longer holds an executive role within the College Republicans club. However, he said that “I’m not going to apologize, nor should I, for having those beliefs,” as he would still call himself a Republican in his personal capacities.
Muzzillo further explained that he would not allow his personal biases to affect his rulings.
Several minutes later, another representative asked Muzzillo what he would do if a student were to read his article about ICE and “feel unsafe” with him as a judge.
Muzzillo reaffirmed that he would adjudicate according to the Code of Conduct and precedent. However, if a student truly felt uncomfortable with him, Muzzillo affirmed that he would “have to recuse” himself. He also affirmed his commitment to “stay apolitical.”
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After Muzzillo left the video conference, the students had a private discussion about Muzzillo’s qualifications One student government member said that she “cannot say yes to him because of that article.”
When another student noted that she was only voting Muzzillo down for his political views and that the student government should put a “diversity of viewpoints” on the court, a third member said that she saw a “big difference” between “a political view that has to do with a party” and “an issue of human rights.” She asserted that support of ICE deals with “how you see other human beings and the rights that they deserve or don’t deserve.”
Another committee member agreed, saying that the student government does not have to deal with a nominee who has “actual skeletons in their closet.” She affirmed that there were other nominees who “do not need to atone for their past actions.”
Furthermore, a committee member asserted that people at the university are not allowed to ask students “if they are undocumented or not,” which would prevent student government from being able to “enforce” Muzzillo recusing himself.
Later, another representative noted that Muzzillo’s nomination to the Supreme Court position alone had “deep implications over criminalization of Black and brown students.” She added that she doubts many “white supremacists” will be open to their allegiance to particular ideologies.
In a 3-4 vote the committee voted against advancing Muzzillo's nomination to the student assembly.
Kyle Reynolds, a Campus Reform correspondent and chairman of the student government’s Oversight and Reform Committee, expressed his disappointment over Muzzillo’s failure to be nominated.
"It is utterly despicable that these students feel compelled to defame and disparage their peer because he dared to express his support for a federal law enforcement agency,” said Reynolds. “Students should be encouraged to respect and support our wonderful law enforcement community, not be punished for doing so.”
“It’s clear that the student congress members who voted against Mr. Muzzillo’s confirmation did so, not because of his lack of qualifications, but because they abhor his support for ICE, an agency which they are so fundamentally opposed to that they feel compelled to lash out with baseless claims of white supremacy and human rights abuses,” he added.
Reynolds added that Muzzillo had previously been voted down by the committee, but had been renominated by the student government president.
Campus Reform reached out to Indiana University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft