Guam Defends Racial Discrimination

by Hans A. von Spakovsky

The voting-rights litigation in Guam previously reported in the PJ Tatler and here at NRO arises from the fact that Guam has a law that essentially allows only members of one particular race, Chamorros, to vote in an important political-status election. Like the Southern segregationists of old, the Chamorros disguise these eligibility rules as non-racial, referring only to “native inhabitants” that lived on Guam in 1950 and their descendants. Of course, in 1950, the native islanders were almost all one race. Such ugly discriminatory schemes violate numerous federal laws and the U.S. Constitution.

This week the plaintiff, retired Air Force major Dave Davis — represented by the Center for Individual Rights as well as Christian Adams — filed a response to Guam’s motion to dismiss the case. The pleading argues that federal law broadly protects the right to vote and also disposes of the “canard” that Guam’s election is non-racial. The Supreme Court in 2000 in Rice v. Cayetano obliterated the state of Hawaii’s argument that a “native-only” vote wasn’t racial.

The motion to dismiss filed by Guam, however, merits serious attention by the U.S. Congress. It argues that even if the plaintiffs are right and the election is racially discriminatory, it should be allowed anyway. Guam shockingly claims it has a special status within the United States that permits racial discrimination against whites and Asians.

If the federal judge in the case actually buys this Jim Crow argument — that racial discrimination is permissible because of some “special status” Guam enjoys — then Congress should question the wisdom of the “home rule” granted to Guam that allows it to engage in unashamed racial discrimination. (That would be the responsibility of Louisiana Republican Rep. John Fleming, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans & Insular Affairs, which has jurisdiction over Guam.) If that means eliminating Guam’s “home rule” over a broad range of issues, then so be it. Racial discrimination should enjoy no quarter anywhere the American flag flies and where Congress has the power to do something about it.

As a side note, and as an example of the kind of radical teaching students are subject to at the University of Guam, an associate professor in the Humanities Division of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, Anna Perez Hattori, has requested permission from the federal court to file an amicus brief in favor of Guam’s discriminatory election process. Hattori pulls no punches in making it plain that she wants to prevent “the flood of recent migrants to Guam” from voting in the election, lest it dilute the votes of the “natives.” I have no doubt that is what racist white Southerners wanted, too, when they instituted Jim Crow laws all over the South to prevent blacks from voting and thus diluting their votes.

This professor claims that discrimination in favor of “natives” of Guam is perfectly legal and the lawsuit should be dismissed: “Attempting to disguise such an injustice [allowing all residents to vote] beneath the cloak of civil rights is as shameful as it is transparent.” What is shameful is that someone in a position to influence young minds would attempt to justify blatant discrimination.

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