Victory: Federal Court Declares Guam's Race Restrictive Plebiscite Unconstitutional

On March 8th, Judge Frances M. Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam issued a decision in favor of CIR client Arnold Davis. Judge Tydingco-Gatewood’s opinion granted Davis’ Motion for Summary Judgment and held Guam’s race exclusive plebiscite unconstitutional in light of the Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution. The ruling will prohibit Guam from denying Davis – or anyone – the right to vote because of their race.

Judge Tydingco-Gatewood held that the plebiscite unconstitutionally used ancestry as a proxy for racial discrimination by limiting participation to those who could prove they were “Native Inhabitants of Guam.” The Judge explained that the use of the classification “as a requirement to register and vote in the Plebiscite is race-based and that the Guam Legislature has used ancestry as a racial definition and for a racial purpose.”

Even though the Attorney General of Guam argued that “Native Inhabitants” is a neutral term, Judge Tydingco-Gatewood reprimanded the government of Guam for “artfully” manipulating the Plebiscite’s requirements to exclude voters based on race.

The Judge concluded that “The U.S. Constitution does not permit for the government to exclude otherwise qualified voters in participating in an election where public issues are decided simply because those otherwise qualified voters do not have the correct ancestry or bloodline.”