Congress urged: Look at Guam’s 'racial discrimination'

THE CAPITOL: The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., is pictured Jan. 8. Reuters file photo

Voting rights advocate J. Christian Adams offered testimony before a congressional subcommittee Tuesday and suggested the U.S. Congress pay attention to Guam’s “racially discriminatory laws.”

He presented testimony to the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

He described the nearly decade-old legal battle in the federal court against Guam’s plebiscite law, which restricts voting to “native inhabitants of Guam.” Before the law was revised, it was referred to as a vote for the CHamoru people.

The District Court of Guam and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have struck down Guam’s plebiscite law. The law proposes to gauge the island’s preference for future political status. The choices are independence, statehood and free association with the United States.

“The case is still continuing because Guam has been zealous in defending their racially discriminatory laws,” Adams said. He represented retired Air Force Maj. Dave Davis, who was denied his request to register for the future plebiscite on Guam. Adams also represented military veterans who were denied their right to vote in the presidential election because they live on Guam.

“Congress, having exclusive jurisdiction over the territories, might take note of the zeal that a territory has defended blatant racial discrimination in voting. It is so blatant that the United States District Court on Guam granted Mr. Davis summary judgment in 2017. In July of this year, 2019, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment finding that Guam was engaging in racial discrimination in voting.”

“Despite the brazen racial discrimination, not a single organization sitting at this table today has even spoken about the racial discrimination on Guam, much less offered to help Mr. Davis," Adams stated. “Mr. Davis attempted to interest organizations in his vote denial but none of the usual ‘civil rights groups’ would help.”