US high court denies petition to review John Davis case

THE U.S. Supreme Court has denied the petition for review filed by Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres and the Commonwealth Election Commission to review the Ninth Circuit’s decision in a case that allowed people of non-Northern Marianas descent to vote on Article 12 matters.

But according to attorney Joseph E. Horey, “this doesn’t mean that the court believes that our arguments are wrong or that the decisions of the lower courts were right.”

Horey noted that the “denial of a writ of certiorari imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case.”

John Davis

He said “it means only that the court has the time and resources to review only a handful of the thousands of cases appealed to it each year, and our case, for whatever reason, was not one of them.”

“It does mean that the district court’s decision in the Davis case is now final,” he added.

In May 2014, District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona’s ruled that “Northern Marianas descent” — as defined in Section 4 of Article 12 of the CNMI Constitution — is a racial classification. Under federal law, she added, it may not serve as the basis for preventing otherwise qualified voters from voting on proposed amendments to Article 12.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision in Dec. 2016.

In May 2017, Torres and the election commission, with the support of the Northern Marianas Descent Corp., filed a petition for certiorari.

Horey said the NMDC is grateful to the governor and the election commission for deciding to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. “Our CNMI Constitution is always worth fighting for, as is the right of the NMI people to control the disposition of NMI lands,” Horey added.

The case stemmed from the lawsuit filed by retired educator and John H. Davis Jr. who asked the court to stop the Commonwealth Election Commission from denying U.S. citizens who are not of Northern Marianas descent the right to vote on any issue regarding Article 12.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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