Motion For Summary Judgment Filed in Voting Rights Case

CIR plaintiff Arnold Davis is back in the U.S. District Court for the District of Guam to continue his challenge to Guam’s race-exclusive plebiscite. In 2013, this same District Court dismissed Davis’ lawsuit by saying he had no standing to sue the government of Guam. However, with CIR’s help, Davis appealed his case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit reinstated Davis’ case and instructed the District Court that Davis does in fact have standing to have his case considered.

Now Davis is back in the District Court and CIR has renewed the proceedings on his behalf. This week, CIR filed a motion for summary judgment that argues the Constitution unequivocally prohibits Guam from denying Davis – or anyone – the right to vote because of their race.

The Attorney General of Guam filed a motion for summary judgment as well, denying that the race-exclusive provision in this law is unconstitutional. In fact, the Attorney General’s brief goes so far as to argue that the Constitution does not control the actions of Guam’s government.

Here are some of the core arguments about voting rights from our motion:

  1. The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is absolute when it says “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged… on account of race.” As the Supreme Court has explained, “race cannot qualify some and disqualify others from full participation in our democracy.”
  2. Racial voting restrictions violate the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause. The Constitution’s promise that all citizens will be treated equally under the law has led the Supreme Court to say that “a citizen has a constitutionally protected right to participate in elections on an equal basis with other citizens in the jurisdiction.”

Read the full motion here.