Mayors asked to support march

Former University of Guam President Rober Underwood, right, answers questions from the media during a press conference on self-determination held in Hagåtña on Aug. 15. Fanohge: March for CHamoru Self-Determination is set to take place on Sept. 2. Post file photo

The Fanohge: March for CHamoru Self-Determination set to take place on Labor Day will have support from Guam’s mayors, who will provide canopies, water stations and other supplies. They also asked about giving assistance through donations during a meeting with march organizers on Wednesday.

The march will be from Adelup to the U.S. District Court and back.  

Helping to organize it is Robert Underwood, former president of the University of Guam and former delegate to Congress, who appeared before the Mayors' Council of Guam to get its support. 

In late July, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an earlier decision from District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood, which held the native-only plebiscite unconstitutional as it would restrict votes based on race.

The plebiscite would have asked the preferred political status from native inhabitants: independence, statehood or free association.

GovGuam argued that “native inhabitant” as defined in law was a political classification, but the 9th Circuit determined that, based on legislative history, the term was a proxy for CHamoru and nearly identical to an earlier plebiscite law that on its face was race-based. 

Arnold “Dave” Davis, an Air Force veteran and longtime Guam resident, filed the lawsuit that ultimately saw the plebiscite law struck down. He tried to enter his name into the Decolonization Registry eight years ago and was denied because he was not a native inhabitant. 

Davis has characterized his victory as an accomplishment for all people on Guam barred from the plebiscite. 

Underwood has said CHamoru self-determination has a historical, moral and legal basis, and that the community should embrace CHamoru self-determination and elected officials should continue to support it. 

Even with the 9th Circuit decision, there are a number of avenues that Guam could take regarding the plebiscite. Seeking a review at the U.S. Supreme Court is an option with a limited window. According to the attorney general, Guam has 90 days from the date of the decision to file a petition for review.

Enacting a different category for the plebiscite may be another solution, while a congressional resolution may present another pathway around plebiscite hurdles.

But all of this still remains under review.

The march is not to promote any particular decision but is meant to keep the issue at the political forefront, according to Underwood. 

“What we’re trying to say is you cannot ignore this. You can’t just let this pass,” he told mayors on Tuesday. “Dave Davis is not going to have the last word on this. We're going to have the last word on this.”

Reporting on utilities, education and other topics.