Rep. Angel Demapan supports petition to appeal Ninth Circuit decision in John Davis case

REPRESENTATIVE Angel Demapan will introduce a House resolution expressing support for the CNMI government’s petition for certiorari and appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision in the case of John Davis vs the Commonwealth Election Commission.

House Resolution 20-6 states that the term Northern Marianas descent or NMD as used in the CNMI Constitution’s Articles 12 and 18 is a political and not a racial term.

The resolution will be formally introduced when the House holds a session today, Thursday, Demapan said, adding that he will ask that it be placed on the calendar for action.

The election commission and Gov. Ralph Torres have filed a petition to appeal the decision of the Ninth Circuit with regard to its ruling in favor of John Davis.

They are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit which, they added, erroneously found that the political and legal term Northern Marianas descent as defined in Section 4 of Article 12 of the Commonwealth Constitution is a racial classification, and that under federal law it may not serve as the basis for preventing otherwise qualified voters from voting on proposed amendments to Article 12.

A retired educator, John Davis challenged CNMI law denying U.S. citizens who are not NMDs the right to vote on Article 12 issues.

The District Court for the NMI ruled in favor of Davis, and this was upheld by the Ninth Circuit which stated that “depriving non-NMDs of the right to vote on Article 12 as Article 18 permits, amounts essentially to a sure-fire formula for majority groups to strip minorities of valuable political rights and consolidate power for themselves.”

The House resolution stated that “this decision must be appealed and reversed because Article 12 and Article 18 together represent the valuable political rights that the majority of non-NMDs seek to strip under the guise of voting rights violations.”

According to the resolution, “The Ninth Circuit’s decision violated a fundamental principle of constitutional law that a state law will not be struck down as racially discriminatory in the absence of a showing of racially discriminatory motivation and intent. The Ninth Circuit expressly refused to consider whether the CNMI had such an intent but struck down our law anyway.”

The Ninth Circuit, the resolution added, “refused to extend to the CNMI a constitutional principle that land and voting restrictions of this kind at issue in this case are political rather than racial in nature when employed by American Indian tribes. Treating such classifications as racial in outlying U.S. jurisdictions such as the CNMI will prevent the U.S. from fulfilling its international obligations to promote the self-determination of the peoples of those jurisdictions since efforts by those people to achieve or exercise self-determination will now be attacked and struck down as racial discrimination. This is already happening in Guam.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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