Largest U.S. law firm files petition for review in Dave Davis case

LAWSUIT: Arnold "Dave" Davis, left, is pictured in the District Court of Guam in Hagåtña on Aug. 27, 2014. Media pool file photo

Adelup has engaged with what is known as the largest law firm in the United States to assist with the U.S. Supreme Court appeal of the Arnold "Dave" Davis plebiscite ruling. 

On Dec. 26, in line with the deadline imposed by the Supreme Court, lawyers for Kirkland & Ellis filed a petition for writ of certiorari, which is essentially a request to have the case reviewed. 

"The petition raises a fundamental question about the self-determination rights of the inhabitants of Guam," according to attorney Micheal Williams, the counsel of record.

Davis, a retired member of the Air Force, was denied registration to vote in the plebiscite, or political status vote, because he did not meet the law's definition of a "native inhabitant," or people who became U.S. citizens through the Organic Act.

Davis sued and was successful in both the District Court of Guam and 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The history and context behind the native inhabitant requirement so closely paralleled a racial classification that it violated the 15th Amendment right to vote, according to the 9th Circuit ruling. 

Williams disagreed. 

"The 9th Circuit’s decision invalidating the plebiscite legislation rests on two basic errors: that the plebiscite was a 'vote' under the 15th Amendment and that the plebiscite was limited on the basis of race.  Neither of those assumptions is correct, as the plebiscite expressly adopts categories that were established by Congress in the Organic Act of Guam. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will grant certiorari review, so inhabitants of Guam have this means of expressing their views on the issue of territorial status," Williams said. 

Kirkland & Ellis is working on the case pro bono, according to Janela Carrera, the governor's spokeswoman. 

Initially, attorney Mike Phillips had been tasked with pursuing the appeal, and had successfully petitioned a deadline extension for the review request. 

"Parties involved all mutually agreed that it would be best that Kirkland & Ellis would be the ones to file the appeal on our behalf," Carrera said. 

Phillips said his last days on the case were during the week of Thanksgiving.

Phillips has said attorneys with Supreme Court experience had to be engaged.

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