The U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday heard oral arguments over the validity of Puerto Rico’s financial oversight board which was appointed in the wake of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy declaration.
The outcome could have far-reaching consequences for Guam and all the other territories.
The U.S. Justice Department is appealing a lower court’s ruling which concluded that the members of Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy board were appointed by then-president Obama in violation of the U.S. Constitution because they are federal officers who were not approved by Congress.
If the high court overturns the lower court’s decision, Guam attorney Juan Carlos Benitez fears the outcome could open the door to un-restricted presidential power over all the territories — without congressional approval.
“That’s why this case is so important because you’re expanding the outreach of the territorial clause now. You’re saying that at any point the federal government could come into Guam and change our entire form of government. We could have a two-chamber legislature, tomorrow they could decide that the governor should not be the head of the government of Guam. Who is the ‘they’ that would have the authority to do that. Right now its Congress,” Benitez said.
PNC asked: “Are you saying the president could do that?”
Benitez answered: “The president could do it. That’s what they’re arguing.”
The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision before Christmas.Supreme Court - Oral Arguments