On Sept. 10, attorney Christian Adams spoke to the Subcommittee of the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the U.S. Congress. The subject of his testimony to the subcommittee was “Evidence of Current and Ongoing Voter Discrimination.”
Adams was the lead civil rights lawyer in the Davis v. the government of Guam case. His congressional testimony was very direct and simple. He stated plainly that Guam had an obviously discriminatory voting law and no one seemed to care. At the same table where he spoke, representatives of the Americans Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Legal Defense and Educational Fund presented. Adams called them out also for not assisting with the Davis case. Adams was also critical of the U.S. Justice Department for not assisting until the very last moment possible. Members of Congress also shared concerns over Guam. It seems Adams’ main point was that hypocrisy seemed to be afoot and civil rights are subject to politics. Congress was reminded that they could and should do something about these concerns.
Since 1997, Guam could have voted 11 times during general elections on political status. We could have had formal voting input to Guam leaders on any range of public views on this subject. Yet, we have chosen not to do anything other than quibble in court over whether federal laws apply to Guam. There is a belief that Guam exists in some sort of international law twilight zone. In this alternate universe view, no laws should apply to Guam except certain radical activist abstract ideas. Some claim a United Nations basis for their views. At some point, rational voters will have to enter the room and vote. Ask the United Nations directly what they think of the odd voting plans proposed by the 24th Legislature in 1997.
This week there will be a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Interior related to political status. My larger question is: Why don’t any of our leaders on Guam actually discuss these concerns? It shouldn't take outsiders dropping in for a couple of days to start discussions. Part of this riddle is how low-value political status is on the minds of the average voter on Guam. In terms of government priorities, this concern is low single digits. By Monday, most of the visitors will be gone, yet you the voter will still be here.
At some point, the vast majority of voters are going to have to tell leaders to worry about education, the economy, health care and public safety. As I have said before, Guam has just as many tensions with the federal government as any state. States are always in litigation with the federal government. In the Guam voting case, from the very beginning, it was clear that the law was bad. Instead of holding discussions and developing a community consensus, we have not really done anything. Instead, we worry about distractions.