Guam Submits Supreme Court Petition

On December 26, Guam filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.  The appeal was filed by the law firm, Kirkland and Ellis, which offered its services pro-bono.

Guam is appealing the recent Ninth Circuit decision that invalidated its political-status plebiscite law under the Fifteenth Amendment’s prohibition on racially discriminatory voting laws.  The American territory passed a law limiting voter registration to “native inhabitants of Guam”—a term calibrated to reach only the island’s indigenous Chamorro people—in a vote that would give shape to Guam’s future relations with the United States.

Guam’s petition makes two arguments.  First, it argues that the plebiscite is not a “vote” for Fifteenth Amendment purposes.  Second, Guam argues that the plebiscite law, which excludes, black, white, Filipino, Chinese, and other Guamanian minorities, does not make a “race-based distinction.”

The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether it will grant Guam’s petition in the next few months.