Wednesday, 08 March 2017

Chief Judge rules in Davis' favor; deems plebiscite violated constitutional rights

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Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood deemed that the plebiscite violates both the 14th and 15th Amendment rights and those voter qualifications exclusive to a specific descent is racial discrimination. 

Guam - The long-awaited decision regarding the controversial plebiscite vote for political status was decided today.

Arnold 'Dave' Davis just won a class action lawsuit against the government of Guam on the basis that he was denied the right to register for the plebiscite. Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood ruled in Davis' favor, saying that excluding non-Chamorros from registering to vote in the referendum is racial discrimination. The plebiscite would seek to ask native inhabitants to vote on three political status options: Independence, Free Association with the US, and Statehood. 

But before the plebiscite could move forward, Davis alleged that it was exclusive to Chamorros-only, particularly the individuals who are direct descendants of the 1950's Chamorro leadership – the ones responsible for the momentous enactment of the Organic Act.

Because the plebiscite would only be available to a specific demographic of people and not non-Chamorro’s like Davis, he filed on behalf of himself and others like him with the district court.

In her summary judgment, Chief Judge Tydingco-Gatewood cites that the court recognizes that it was not the original intent for the plebiscite to be based on race. However, she does note that the term "native inhabitant" is frighteningly close to the term "native Chamorro"- which she deems is a “facially race-based term.”

The court has since defined native inhabitant to mean everyone that calls the island the of Guam their home. On this basis, Further, she wrote that she permanently enjoins the government of Guam from enforcing the political status plebiscite that is specifically limited to one demographic as well as hinders otherwise qualified voters from registering and participating in the vote.

In response to the judge’s ruling, Governor Eddie Calvo weighed in on the matter expressing his disappointment:

“I have stated time and time again that the people of Guam deserve to have their voices heard — and what more important issue that we have a say in than the future of our island, our government and our children.

The United States categorized our relationship as a territory, and by doing so recognized that the Native Inhabitants of Guam have the right to one day exercise our collective self-determination through a decolonization process,” the governor wrote in a press release.


Governor Calvo added that the ruling is potentially sending mixed messages, especially since the Department of Interior has allocated $300,000 for the education leading up to the plebiscite. He offered a loophole to the plebiscite vote by suggesting there be two indicators by which the people of Guam could identify: one as “native inhabitant” and the other as “non-native.”  Ultimately, the governor wrote that this ruling should not hinder the people of Guam from moving forward. 

1 comment

  • Comment Link Comment by : bg1986 (Thursday, 09 March 2017 07:50)

    I wish I was more interested on this issue but I simply am not. Maybe it's because I'm perfectly happy with the status quo.

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