Guam replies to CIR suit challenging race plebiscite

In early December, the Government of Guam moved to dismiss CIR’s case challenging its Chamorro-only plebiscite on grounds that plaintiff Dave Davis cannot possibly have been harmed by being excluded from a plebiscite that is advisory in nature. According to Guam, the plebiscite is intended to solicit the opinion of a group of voters, which will then be transmitted to US officials. Because the outcome of the plebiscite cannot change Guam’s relation to the US directly, Guam contends the courts lack jurisdiction to review Davis’ complaint of race discrimination.

In its brief filed in late December, CIR contends that the constitution and federal laws prohibit Guam from excluding anycitizen from any election for any purpose based on race. It does not matter whether the election in question is designed to tabulate public opinion or whether it is intended to directly settle the question of Guam’s future. In either event, Davis has been excluded from participating in an official election based solely on race. Because the plebiscite denies Davis the right to vote in violation of the constitution and federal statute, he has suffered a harm that the courts have jurisdiction to consider.

The next step in the case will be a ruling by the Federal District Court of Guam on Guam’s motion to dismiss.