The Office of the Attorney General yesterday defended Guam’s Decolonization Registry against claims that it discriminates along racial lines. A panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit yesterday heard arguments in that case and two other cases during a special hearing at the U.S. District Court of Guam in Hagåtña. It was the first time since 2002 that a panel of judges from the appellate court heard arguments here. The court has jurisdiction over federal courts in nine states, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. Among the cases judges heard yesterday was Davis v. Guam, which challenges the constitutionality of the Guam Decolonization Registry.
The registry is a list of voters for a possible plebiscite and restricts registration to residents meeting the legal definition of “native inhabitant.”
When held, the plebiscite will help determine Guam’s desired future relationship with the United States — independence, free association or statehood.
Arnold “Dave” Davis, who wasn’t allowed to register, sued the local government, saying the restrictive requirements violate the Voting Rights Act and the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.