The Guam Election Commission may be headed to court as a non-profit public interest law firm is filing suit, alleging racial discrimination due to the upcoming vote to determine Guam’s future political status. While a series of meetings and workshops on the process of decolonization were a positive step forward in Guam’s quest for self-determination, a civil suit filed by an island resident who isn’t eligible to vote could bring the process to a standstill.
The Center for Individual Rights – a non-profit public interest law firm based in our nation’s capitol, is taking the GEC and its commissioners to court. On behalf of Guam resident Arnold Davis, the CIR alleges racial discrimination after he was not allowed to register for the plebiscite because he didn’t meet the definition of a native inhabitant of Guam.
CIR president Terry Pell told KUAM News, “In our view, this plebiscite, which is going to decide or help the future of Guam’s relation to the United States, ought to be open to all registered voters of Guam, regardless of their race. That’s what the Constitution says – that’s what the law says.”
Senator Ben Pangelinan, who heads the Decolonization Registry at his office, however, says its very clear the right to self-determination is vested in the native inhabitants, which was thoughtfully structured in the law so that it wouldn’t be raced based; but rather based upon political action that the U.S. took, which affected those individuals that were on Guam in 1950. “And it didn’t matter if you were Chamorro, Filipino, statesider or Palauan, but if you were on Guam in that fashion and you were eligible that political action by the United States, the passage of the Organic Act, affected you without your consent,” he said.