Ninth Circuit rules ancestral voting restriction unconstitutionally limits voting on the basis of race

“You simply cannot have voting rights based on ancestry.”


J. Christian Adams talks with Pacific News Center’s K57 Newstalk about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in Davis v. Commonwealth Election Commission that an ancestry-based voting restriction in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) is an unconstitutional race-based exclusion, and about the parallels between that case and Davis v. Guam, in which Adams represents the plaintiff.


Both voting rights cases involve plaintiffs named Davis fighting against the exclusion of otherwise-eligible voters from certain elections based on their ancestry, which the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized may be an unconstitutional “proxy for race.”


Adams emphasizes that the Ninth Circuit’s opinion is clear: “You simply cannot have voting rights based on ancestry. It could not be more clear when you read the opinion. It could not be more clear that you can’t disguise ancestral voting rights as somehow temporal or political.”


The Guam case is sure to be impacted by the appellate court’s ruling, which affirmed the judgment of the district court in striking down CNMI’s ancestry-based voting restriction as a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment and rejected as a matter of law all the defenses CNMI raised.