Race-based Guam plebiscite struck down as unconstitutional

“The law is the law; (it) applies on Guam just like it applies everywhere.”


A victory for equal voting rights:


A federal judge on Wednesday struck down as unconstitutional a law that limited voting based on ancestry, finding that Guam’s plebiscite statute amounted to race-based discrimination.


In the case of Davis v. Guam, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood decided in favor of plaintiff Arnold “Dave” Davis, a non-native resident who challenged the law that would have allowed only native inhabitants of Guam to vote in a plebiscite to determine the island’s future political status.


Finding that the plebiscite statute violates the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, the court issued an order granting the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and barring Guam from enforcing the plebiscite law’s race-based restrictions.

“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.”

Davis’ attorney J. Christian Adams, who formerly served in the U.S. Department of Justice Voting Section and took on Davis’ case after the DOJ declined to act, was happy with the outcome.

“It is a fantastic decision that vindicated voting rights for everybody on Guam,” Adams said. “It says that who your parents were, or grandparents were, has nothing to do with your right to vote and everybody is allowed to participate in the plebiscite.”


“The law is the law; (it) applies on Guam just like it applies everywhere” in the United States,” he said.