Chamoru activists join the the Fanohge March for CHamoru Self-Determination on Sept. 2, 2019. File photo by Johanna Salinas
The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Guam’s belated request for a 60-day extension to appeal the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling on Dave Davis’ plebiscite lawsuit, the governor’s office said Wednesday.
“While this decision was a disappointment, it was not unexpected. All attorneys involved advised of the small likelihood that the court would entertain the petition as well as the risks involved if the court had taken up that petition,” reads a statement from Adelup.
Attorney Michael Phillips, who was hastily appointed by Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero as the lead counsel for the appeal, crammed to file a request for extension on Oct. 28—past the deadline to seek a review.
“The governor of Guam received opinions from her constituency and individuals who have worked on political status and self-determination issues, and after a complete review and consideration of all points of view, the governor decided it was in the best interest of the people of Guam to file an appeal,” read the request filed by Phillips.
“Unfortunately, the attorneys representing Guam were not able at that time to continue the representation as directed by the governor…By the time the Governor was able to ask Attorney Phillips to take this case, the 10-day deadline preceding the date to file such a petition had passed. Neither the governor nor Attorney Phillips were aware of the past deadline to request an extension at the time the governor finalized her decision and asked Attorney Phillips to represent Guam.”
Despite the high court’s denial of Guam’s appeal, the governor’s office said “pursuing other alternatives to preserve our voice in Guam's self-determination effort required that all appellate options were exhausted.”
In a ruling issued in July, the Ninth Circuit Court held that limiting the political status vote to “native inhabitants of Guam” is a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment. The court’s decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed in November 2011 by Air Force veteran Arnold Davis, who was denied a chance to register for the yet-to-be-scheduled self-determination plebiscite.
In light of the Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case, the governor’s office is exploring a legislative option. “Draft legislation, which will attempt to meet the narrow holding of the 9th Circuit Court, will be forwarded to Sen. Therese Terlaje in an effort to continue the momentum that the Commission on Decolonization has generated for the past year,” the governor’s office said.
“This important work will continue until Guam’s native inhabitants have cast their votes for self-determination.”